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Fruit Of The Loom Mens Valueweight Short Sleeve T-Shirt (L) (Apricot)
Fruit Of The Loom Mens Valueweight Short Sleeve T-Shirt (L) (Apricot)
Offered by 247Clix UK
Price: £2.84

2.0 out of 5 stars Not Fruity, 17 Aug. 2016
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I ordered one of these. It arrived very late and is not by Fruit of the Loom. Having said that it seems OK.

Simpsons Special Pure Badger Hair Shaving Brush With Imitation Ivory Handle
Simpsons Special Pure Badger Hair Shaving Brush With Imitation Ivory Handle
Offered by The Executive Shaving Company
Price: £19.95

2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't Last, 15 Aug. 2016
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I have had this brush three and a half years. I only shave about every four or five days, and it is now losing hairs massively on every use so it is going in the bin.

The last one I had wasn't badger hairs, was much cheaper, and lasted much longer.

Factor in that I've read badger hairs are obtained from factory farmed badgers in China - I don't know if that is true for this brush - and this doesn't look like such a good buy.

Not the Chilcot Report
Not the Chilcot Report
by Peter Oborne
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Better Narrative than the Chilcot Executive Summary, but Less Believing of Blair's Sincerity, 7 July 2016
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This review is from: Not the Chilcot Report (Hardcover)
Over the last two or three days I have read this book and the summary of the Chilcot Report, and this review attempts to examine the differences.

Peter Oborne writes a coherent narrative of the recent history of Iraq, including the two Gulf Wars, and explains what I had not realised, which was that regime change in Iraq had been an actively pursued US and UK policy throughout the nineties. Concern about WMD had also been a longstanding matter, although much had been done to deal with this and the issue was obscured by Saddam’s attempts to big up his WMD to scare Iran, whilst at the same time assuring UN inspectors that in fact there were no weapons.

This is also made much of in the executive summary of the Chilcot Report, which suggests and assumes without ever really examining the issue explicitly, that despite the fact that the Foreign Office and the various intelligence agencies never came up with anything remotely like clear evidence of WMD, Blair in particular was convinced in all sincerity that these WMD existed.

There is an argument, I suppose, that had the politicians really been convinced as the intel people must have been that these weapons didn’t exist, they might have paused before starting an invasion which would of necessity eventually reveal that there were in fact no weapons.

The main difference between Oborne and Chilcot is that Oborne regards Blair as quite cynical. He suggests that neither Blair nor Bush were actually bothered about WMD. Their real interest was regime change. However Blair was fundamentally worried about selling war to his cabinet, parliament and the British people, and knew that they wouldn’t be happy unless the war could be seen to be legal. Oborne suggests that legality was of no concern to the Americans, but for Blair it was. Chilcot in particular makes it clear that Blair worked very hard to convince the US to go through the UN if possible. But according to Oborne this was not because it mattered to Blair personally, it was simply a political need.

Invasion of a foreign country for regime change is illegal, but if WMD could be proved there could be a pathway perhaps through the UN.

Chilcot, on the other hand, takes Blair’s protestations of sincerity about WMD at face value, and never questions them, at least not in the summary.

One question I have, is that if regime change was the real motivation, why was it seen as so important?

This is not really explored by Oborne, who regards Blair’s motivation as being wanting to keep in with the Americans, although he doesn’t appear all that convinced about it.

My own belief is that the neocon agenda, as explained by George Friedman, in ‘America’s Secret War’, was to turn Iraq into a neocon satellite from which the US could control the Middle East, given the contradictions inherent in its relationship with Saudi Arabia, in some senses an unreliable ally or military base.

My guess is that underneath it all this would have been an objective which sat happily with Blair.

Chilcot, as I have said, buys Blair’s statements that it was WMD as well as regime change, and questions his motives no further.

Oborne of course goes through all the ways Blair, brilliant diplomat that he is, managed to wind his cabinet, parliament and the British public round his little finger.

All the newspapers that are now pillorying Blair, in 2003 were praising him to the skies, although in fact most of the info in the Chilcot report about WMD was actually available in 2003.

At that time the Daily Mirror published an article, before the war started, explaining why there could be no WMD – poverty and sanctions made it impossible.

Everyone in the Foreign Office knew there was no evidence.

Chilcot does an even better job of showing how the campaign for war in the UK was really a one man band. Blair’s genius for diplomacy, also illustrated in the Balkans, in Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland came into its own. Even Jack Straw was a sad lost child pointing out until it was too late that there was no evidence. A sad lost child who like all the other dissenting voices Blair paid no heed to.

Nevertheless Oborne does a cracking job of putting it all together and providing context, making it much easier to understand the bureaucratic style of the Chilcot Report.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 11, 2016 6:09 PM BST

Plain Supersoft Bathroom Beige Cream Rubber Backed Non-Slip Toilet Pedestal Mat ONLY
Plain Supersoft Bathroom Beige Cream Rubber Backed Non-Slip Toilet Pedestal Mat ONLY
Offered by Century Mills Of Sheffield
Price: £11.98

3.0 out of 5 stars They're good but now the rubber on the back is starting ..., 29 Jun. 2016
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I bought two of these a couple of years ago and alternate them about every three weeks (shocking I know). They're good but now the rubber on the back is starting to get tacky so I'm replacing.

PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future
PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future
by Paul Mason
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Serious Attempt to Reimagine the Global Economy, 14 Jun. 2016
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Mason’s ‘Postcapitalism’ is one of only three books I have ever read that represent a serious attempt to reimagine the global economy. The other two were written about a hundred years ago by a man who is deeply academically unfashionable, at least in this country, despite his extensive and rigorous academic credentials, namely Rudolf Steiner. I refer to ‘The Threefold Social Order’ and ‘World Economy’.

Like Steiner, Mason draws heavily on Marxist traditions. Steiner was far from being a Marxist, but shared Marx’s analysis of the problems capitalism presented. He differed with him on the solution.

Mason has read widely in Marxist economic theory, including Marx, Engels, Lenin, Bukharin and a number of others. He shows how the evolution of capitalism surprised almost all of these thinkers: they didn’t expect it to survive so long and in particular underestimated its adaptive power.

Mason argues that capitalism survived initially by turning into a form of state capitalism which largely controlled the market and socialised and protected the workforce. This started to break down when Nixon took the dollar out of the Bretton Woods agreement and all currencies then became flexible. From around that time it gradually became open season on irresponsible financial speculation, eventually to the extent that the global economy became a tissue of lies and guesswork.

Mason’s analysis of Marxism is presented alongside a look at Kondratieff who postulates fifty year cycles of growth and decline, which are to do with cycles of types of means of production which gradually run out of steam.

All this gradually culminates in the sterility of neoliberalism which Mason contrasts with a labour theory of value. Neoliberalism is basically interested in making money. It is interested in the market but not in the human lives that lay behind it, and it tells us that if we trust the market everything else will sort itself out. A theory of value based on labour suggests that the value of things should be based not on scarcity or manipulation but on the amount of money it costs to keep a family alive and in health, and how many hours a worker needs to put in to create something. In other words this theory of value starts with the human being.

If you look at the world today it is obvious the free market ideology is bankrupt but even those in public life who realise and perhaps acknowledge this are reluctant to disown it because they can’t conceive of an alternative.

Mason, having analysed socialism closely, postulates that human values can only be maintained by a system he calls postcapitalism, which can grow out of the development of the internet which offers the potential to reduce demands on labour because of the ways in which it can revolutionise design and production (the ‘Internet of Things’), and the development of the free economy as instanced by Open Source agreements and non-profit concerns like Wikipedia.

The last chapter or two look in some detail at the problems the world faces – migration, climate change and an ageing population – and suggest that there are ways of stimulating the cooperative economy but that also governments need to throw their weight around when it comes to regulating the financial world.

Many of Mason’s ideas echo Steiner’s, particularly his theory of value, his views about regulation of capital, and his critique of Marxism. Steiner of course is hard to take for many because of his spiritual views. However I would suggest a spirituality as hardheaded, rigorous and grounded in concrete reality as Steiner’s perhaps deserves further consideration, a hundred years old or not.

Finally Mason’s book is easy to read in one sense, ie in the language he uses, which is totally jargon free. Of course some of the concepts need some effort to grasp.

A Place of Refuge: An Experiment in Communal Living - The Story of Windsor Hill Wood
A Place of Refuge: An Experiment in Communal Living - The Story of Windsor Hill Wood
by Tobias Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Heroic Work, 26 May 2016
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This is probably the best book I've ever read about living in a community.

As I read it I kept thinking of Findhorn. Years ago, when Findhorn was in its early years, I read a number of books about the struggles people went through there. Both communities combine a spiritual perspective with fairly rigorous attention to discipline.

In the case of "A Place of Refuge" the evident goal seems to me to be a desire to keep an open door to anyone in need and not to reject people no matter how apparently difficult their problems seem. An educated Christianity and widespread practical research into communal living were the inspiration for the author and his wife, whereas at Findhorn the principle was to follow the inner guidance achieved through meditation and the practical endeavour was the construction of a garden and the search for spiritual understanding. Very different on the surface but the continual self-questioning and search for a sensitive but strong discipline were present in both cases.

To me one of the stories the book tells is the gradual evolution in the skillset of the author and the others in how they dealt with the issues presented by the stream of residents and guests. I was a social worker for nearly thirty years, and believe that there is enormous wisdom in this book. Towards the end the community was host to people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, eating disorders, self-harm, and a variety of psychoses.

Jones's list of revered communities that he had researched include the Philadelphia and Soteria communities which specialised in mental health issues, and his practice seems to me to chime well with theirs.

Jones writes:

"NHS staff referred us countless 'clients' going through schizophrenic or psychotic episodes for whom they felt they could do nothing. It often seemed that their only solution was to prescribe, and distribute, industrial quantities of neuroleptics. They were therefore amazed when they visited and saw their patients contentedly integrating into a community, having decided to stop their anti-psychotics."

Tell me about it.

This is fantastic work, and a fantastic book.

Rescuing the "Inner Child": Therapy for Adults Sexually Abused as Children (Human Horizons Series): Therapy for Adults Sexually Abused as Children (Human Horizons Series)
Rescuing the "Inner Child": Therapy for Adults Sexually Abused as Children (Human Horizons Series): Therapy for Adults Sexually Abused as Children (Human Horizons Series)
by Penny Parks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Self Help, for Real!, 6 April 2016
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I have read a number of books on childhood sexual abuse which I found very useful during my career as a social worker during which I worked with a number of survivors.

This book however I found particularly useful in that Penny Parks offers a series of exercises which can be employed by the reader. Penny advocates the use of a therapist in most cases, but also states that often the exercises in this book can be worked with completely effectively by the reader without outside help, and I have found this to be the case.

Interestingly, Penny also states on her website that her approach is also valid in other cases of recovery from trauma or other kinds of abuse.

The exercises which I found particularly useful are those in which the present day adult writes to the child who was abused, reassuring him or her, and the child writes back to the adult explaining his feelings at the time.

There are also letters which can be written by the child or adult to the abuser. Penny recommends that in most cases these letters are not sent, for reasons she explains.

Penny suggests that survivors read as much as they can about sexual abuse first, to help them think through the ways in which the abuse afffected them, so that the letters will be more to the point.

The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief
The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief
by Francis Weller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soul Therapy, 9 Mar. 2016
This book was bought for me by someone who was doing some workshops on grief, and who had told me that in some way the book brought together issues of personal grief with wider, collective, or even racial griefs.

When I read the book this is exactly what I found. To be honest, I found myself at first a little frustrated with what I found to be the book’s vague, meandering style: I couldn’t see where the author was going, until I got to the chapter on ‘The Five Gates of Grief’, which to me is the core of the book.

Weller discusses how he sees five areas of grief as interrelated, how we are all caught in a web of five kinds of hold, all of which have to be acknowledged in order for us to get a grip on where we are going.

These areas are
1) Personal grief, loss of a relationship, bereavement, or serious illness
2) The loss of trauma, whether in childhood or adulthood, whether personal or collective. This includes how simple lack of care can result in the inability to manage the wild emotions of personal grief when they come around.
3) Grief resulting from the damage modern technology has done to the world, both physically, and in terms of damage to the social and psychic structures, the organic organisations which people, animals, plants and minerals had naturally developed over countless centuries. I would say; though Weller doesn’t in so many words; that this results from the development of modern science, for all its benefits. This is something that Foucault and Gregory Bateson spent their lives writing about, from within their different disciplines.
4) No village. Here Weller is talking about how the modern world has broken up the communities we all lived in until recently. The nuclear family – with two parents or maybe only one – has replaced the village, the extended family. This too is a loss of experience and wisdom.
5) Ancestral grief. How for each of us there may be issues which span the generations to do with gender issues, racial issues, issues deriving from migration, racial trauma etc.

Webber goes on to look at the respective places of therapy, collective ritual, and private meditation, using perspectives derived from his Jungian training.

This book was exactly what I hoped for, despite, or perhaps even because of the wispy meandering style, because it suggests that these lumps of grief, these no-go areas of the soul, are why we feel alienated in the modern world, and how the personal is integrated with the public.

I have used my language and perhaps some of my concepts in this review, so it reflects a personal understanding of Mr Weller’s book.

The Global Seven Years War 1754-1763: Britain and France in a Great Power Contest (Modern Wars In Perspective)
The Global Seven Years War 1754-1763: Britain and France in a Great Power Contest (Modern Wars In Perspective)
by Daniel A. Baugh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War in a Different Age, 3 Mar. 2016
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It has taken me a long time to read this book – it’s quite substantial, and I had a little pause in the middle – but I think it’s one of the most remarkable history books I have ever read.

The battles of the Seven Years War encompassed chiefly India, Germany, France, the West Indies, Portugal and North America, particularly from what is now New York State up into the Lakes and Canada. These battles were fought on land, and, crucially the sea. Daniel Baugh made his name as a historian of the navy and his understanding of the role of the navy not only in naval warfare but in the logistics of global warfare in the eighteenth century is crucial.

I came to this book after having seen the film ‘The Last of the Mohicans’, and then having read the book. The film is great, but bears little relation to the book. The book is first and foremost a detailed study of the culture of the American Indian tribes during the war, and the influence of the Europeans and the situation of war on them. Wanting to understand all this better, I came to this book.

Britain struggled at first in the battles in North America, having much less experience of the contested territory than the French, and less sophisticated relations with the Indians, who were given to changing sides; mostly, it seems – and this is echoed by Cooper – because they knew they were outgunned by the whites and needed to know which side their bread was buttered on.

The genius of this book is in its understanding of the logistics of war in an age before telegraphy. By logistics I mean the chain of command from the British cabinet and the extremely dissociated French government, to the management of the navies, to the security of transatlantic voyages whether conveying military personnel or provisions, the management of decision-making given the timescales involved, the choice of key military leaders, and in North America, the gradual learning process by both countries of managing a conflict in difficult terrain.

Regarding the politicians, I have read a number of books on Pitt the Elder, and this is one of the best. The author appears to have gone through the documents of the time with a toothcomb and tries to demystify some of the prejudices about this man who was a hero to the people and capable of massively influencing government policy even in opposition, such was the weight of his consideration and oratory.

In particular Baugh makes much of the ways in which Pitt, Newcastle and Hardwicke complemented each other.

As I said, Baugh made his name writing books about the development of the British navy, and some of the most memorable parts of this book describe the extraordinary achievements of the British navy taking Minorca, Belle Isle, Martinique and Havana. The detail, from an engineering perspective, of what is involved in storming a massive fortification from the sea, is fantastic.

One caution I would give about this book, is that while the attention given to the interplay between the political and military figures is exhaustive, thoughtful, and offering perspective at all times; it should not be assumed that Mr Baugh regards it as his job to offer background. You are not going to learn about the condition of the French peasantry, or exactly why the French finances were in the mess they were, or why the British political system allowed it to manage the war so well, or at least not in any detail. Nor are you going to get any kind of recap of the European history of the previous half century to see where the war came from. A certain familiarity with the course of European history is assumed.

Back to the Badlands: Crime Writing in the USA
Back to the Badlands: Crime Writing in the USA
by John Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Seriously Educational, 1 Jan. 2016
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I think this is a better book than some of the reviews suggest.

Firstly I think the combination of travel writing and interviews is great, particularly as one of the reasons I like thrillers so much is the sense of place, to use a modern cliche, that they offer.

Think, for example of James Lee Burke's description of poor boy sandwiches, or anything by Woodrell.

I especially liked Williams' depictions of Miami, Detroit and Washington, speaking as someone who hasn't visited the States since 1978.

The most fun interview was with Crumley, I also enjoyed the interviews with Pelecanos and Elmore Leonard. I didn't get much from the Burke and Woodrell interviews that I didn't already know, but there was nothing wrong with them.

I love James Lee Burke's books, more than Williams does according to his little piece at the end. Yes they are similar, but the joie de vivre of his two main characters is unquenchable, and in a way yes they are the same book over and over but I love the atmosphere of all the bars and ranches and crazy characters that turn up, not to mention the scenery and the food. Can't get enough.

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