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Men on Earth
Men on Earth
by Sean Daniel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A lifetime worth of reflections, shared through a memorable metaphor, 19 May 2015
This review is from: Men on Earth (Paperback)
I took me almost 90 pages to really get into it... then I couldn't put it down, and had to read the next ~160 pages in a single sitting.

It's one of those books that has you suddenly realise you're squinting in the dark and you keep reading while you stand and reach out for the light switch.

I wasn't enticed by the blurb, but read the book based on a personal recommendation. The plot, since it involves some element of fantasy (specifically: one character has wings!), was slow to draw me in. I don't read much fiction -- especially not fiction that involves an angel on earth. The story initially seemed to be a convenient (and very effective) context to communicate moments of extreme human truth; had the book stayed at "just" this, it would still have made for a book well worth reading.

At times, the clarity of understanding of the human condition is as tragic as it is wise. From the beginning, I enjoyed these reflections, clearly amassed over a life of thinking, and generously doled out throughout the pages.
"[he] would soon finish and discover that the act of self-satisfaction is one of the least satisfying things on the planet"
"as with so many, [he] did something truly human; in a time of great hardship and fear, he took his feelings out on the one person who cared for him most"
"The danger is that when one selfishly uses all the love they possess on themselves, all that remains for others is hate."
"As is the way with men, when feelings cannot be resolved an anger is born."
"Men entertain women. Women fascinate men. Both are equally likely to fade."
"They say that not knowing is the worst... they just want to know. Then when the answer is not the one they wished for, the very same people will claim that ignorance is bliss"
"People are funny creatures; it is amazing how much faith human kind have in things that are constant."

Along with perspective, the author indulges in many a memorable turn of phrase to weave the tapestry on.
"...he was on the wrong side of the clock, which had been making faces at him for some time."
"She was splendid from head to toe and all there was in between, not that that was very much at all."
"Of course, he had no plan, but neither was there an ulterior motive, just motive."
"...it was not a desirable building, but what it lacked in character it made up for in sheer loneliness."
"There was a silence about the room. Some of the silence was for new thoughts, some was for old."

However, once I was about three chapters deep, I was no longer just enjoying sentences here and there: I was involved. An individual not from this earth gradually discovers conceit, passion, deception, humility, arrogance, friendship, all for the first time... It wasn't simply that "I cared" but that I was learning too. All the great texts that stand the test of time explore the core of the human being, but this story feels extra relevant for this generation re-defining image and friendship via the internet.

As time passed on in the story, the book gripped me as I did it. The choice of characters paid dividends; I was amazed how deeply I came to understand the fallen angel. In fact, the fantastical nature of this character helped me start with such a blank canvas at the start of the book, as I turned each page and discovered our society through the angel's eyes, I truly saw it anew. Few authors can make you see something you already know is such a new light. Especially some "thing" as grand and familiar as the human being.

I'll never forget certain images and lessons learned from Roald Dahl, such as how "If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face... A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly."
I'll never forget the image of a young boy discovering an orange for the first time, in "I am David".
Men on Earth has within its pages enough powerful images and gems of wisdom that it is another keeper for me. There were moments when alone in my chair I laughed out loud, but many more moments where I grabbed my pen to put a star in the margin, thinking, "wow, that sentence... could take a lifetime to learn, he's summed it up in a tweet". Sean Daniel is clearly an empathetic soul. I would not dare compare an individual directly to James Joyce, but will say that it's been a long time since I was so struck by that familiar thought: "how such sage words have been penned by such a young writer?"

Quite simply, I am more after reading this. I am left with a feeling not unlike the positive feeling I have after completing a training course or a good workout: I am the better of it, more aware of and grateful in my own skin; glad to be able to call on the metaphor of the learning angel in years ahead. I was certainly not "happy", but I feel richer.
I'll be buying copies of this a gift to my friends who enjoy a philosophical chat over a slow tea, who enjoy meeting strangers and testing their own understanding of themselves and, of course, those who enjoy discovering great rising authors.


UE BOOM Bluetooth Wireless Speaker - Black Night
UE BOOM Bluetooth Wireless Speaker - Black Night

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great sound for music. Good as conference call speakerphone in small group. Robust. Great battery. Easy bluetooth pairing, 27 Mar. 2014
Powerful device, perfect for the traveller, the party-bringer or anyone who wants to convert their mobile phone into a brilliant speakerphone.

Great for music
- Pro: Sounds on par with your basic 2.0 powered speakers lots of home PCs have. I have used this at parties and it can fill a room with 30 people. EDIT: Easily pumps music during a 5-a-side outdoor soccer game. I have compared this with the jawbone jambox (https://jawbone.com/speakers/jambox) and the UE boom is much louder. I have now ordered a second UE Boom for myself to have a stereo sound system (you can pair two speakers to work together)

Great for days out: rugged
- Pro: Stuff it in your bag, wedge it between seats of the car... it's a low maintainance, reliable little buddy
- Pro: I have even run it under the kitchen tap to test... and it still works. Not sure how much money you should spend for this priviledge, though...

Great battery life
- Pro: I don't know what the spec says, but it really lasts for hours. If you're just in play music mode (not phonecalls), it should last the whole work day

Great bluetooth range.
- Pro: I will often take the speaker and stroll around the office talking while my phone is still plugged in charging. In my apartment, music stays playing downstairs even when I go to top of stairs with my phone -- out of sight around two corners from the BOOM below
Good looking but not pretentious
- Pro: It's a bit mysterious, not flashy, but definitely well designed

Easy to use
- Pro: paired easily and quickly with all my devices and those of friends on first use
- Pro: quick start-up and pairing each time in normal use
- +/- volume buttons a child could use
- It knows to take jack as input if jack is plugged in, and otherwise plays over bluetooth sans problème

Good for conference calls (really handy)
- Pro: Good as a speakerphone in a room with ~4 persons participating in the call. I really appreciate having the BOOM with me when I receive a call on my mobile and want to put the call on speaker so those in the room with me can listen in and join the conversation -- BOOM is a perfect device for this.
- Pro: Easy to hear. Boom was the hero of the day one day at work when a guest speaker was supposed to dial in to a conference with ~30 attendees. At the last minute, the spider phone (Polcom speaker landline phone) broke, so I dialed in the individual using my mobile phone and the BOOM bluetooth speaker. The individual's voice could be heard by the whole room, and I could pass around the BOOM to those in the room who wished to speak.
- Con: "Good" not "Great": Sometimes if you don't speak loud enough near enough the microphone, the listener has some difficulty hearing. On my own in a quiet environment I use it all the time instead of a handsfree kit (e.g., while typing, tidying, ironing, lying down), but in groups or noisier environments I am sometimes asked to repeat myself so wind up holding device near my mouth. In the case of a 30-person meeting like mentioned above, the BOOM would not be good enough to pick up questions from anywhere in the room... but then again, no bluetooth speaker on the market would be.
- Con: It doesn't have a mute button (or a way to end calls; turning off the speaker doesn't end the call)

Heavy
- Con: The great battery life and strong sound come at a price... you'll notice this in your bag. If you're going on a long hike, you won't want to be lugging this with you (bigger, heavier than the jawbone jambox)

tl;dr
If you have tried the ~£20 bluetooth speakers and want something much better, this will be a wise investment. It has impressed me and everyone who's heard it. I got mine as a gift thinking, "there's no way I'd pay that kind of money for it" but now if I lost it I would replace it as I use it every single day.
If you are buying your first bluetooth speaker, it might be worth buying one for ~10% of this price to test first to discover what you really need in a speaker


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