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Profile for Ian Gordon Malcomson > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC)
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Rightwell Energy-Saving WiFi Plug Wireless Smart Socket Switch US Plug,Intelligent Switch Remote Control Home IT Smart Wifi Socket Turn on/ off Electronics from Anywhere with Timing Function(White)
Rightwell Energy-Saving WiFi Plug Wireless Smart Socket Switch US Plug,Intelligent Switch Remote Control Home IT Smart Wifi Socket Turn on/ off Electronics from Anywhere with Timing Function(White)

5.0 out of 5 stars Handy for Operating Within the Home or Business, March 28 2016
There are devices that are meant to make one's life easier by cutting back on unnecessary movement, and this wireless smart plugin is one of them. Set up in your house or apartment, it can allow you to switch on or off appliances, devices, and lights without having to interrupt an important task upstairs, downstairs or on the same level. While it took just a little extra effort to get it hooked up to our Android, it works like a charm. If you have any problems, refer to an excellent tutorial on YouTube. There is one small problem in that if you want to perform multiple operations, you'll need more than one plugin. Make sure it is programmed to local time.


Yong8 Ocean Wave Projector Color Changing Led Night Light Lamp/Realistic Aurora Borealis Projector (white)
Yong8 Ocean Wave Projector Color Changing Led Night Light Lamp/Realistic Aurora Borealis Projector (white)
Offered by still
Price: CDN$ 29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Astral Wonders in the Bedroom, March 28 2016
I bought this special effects projector for when our young grandkids visit, and I am absolutely pleased with its many operating features. As one who has seen a number of Northern Lights displays in my lifetime, this machine does a credible job mirroring the phenomenom for home viewing. The regulating buttons allow the user to adjust speed and direction to create different shimmering color effects. What I like the most is the built-in sound system that allows me to attach my MP3 player or Internet radio to play special music needed to ease young kids into Dreamland.


How Should We Live?: A Practical Approach to Everyday Morality
How Should We Live?: A Practical Approach to Everyday Morality
by John Kekes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 52.08
20 used & new from CDN$ 36.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutes Based on High Principles of Logic Aren't Realistic, March 22 2016
I took this book to read on a recent trip to Bermuda. While there, I treated myself to one of the strongest arguments against those who would simplify life by promoting simplistic ideals as the gold standard for achieving at the highest levels possible. Kekes takes dead aim at the Kantian dogma that there is ultimately an overriding ideal that trumps all arguments and conflicts. In this very well written treatise on how we should live, given the fact that most if not all of us of endure periods of doubt and uncertainty, Kekes examines the lives of six hypothetical people as they try to decide what is best for their futures. They are all faced with huge dilemmas that need an answer in order for them to move forward and prosper. By attacking the philosophical belief that doubt can only be settled by submitting to the so-called principle of overriding truth, Kekes shows that modern thinkers like Frankfurt, Taylor, and Williams are mistaken in how they attempt to reduce life to a process of self-reflection based on best evidence available, leading to best outcomes. For the author, our daily existence is not so simply understood. We are intricate beings with complex narratives or genealogies that reflect continual adjustments or adaptations to present challenges. Many of us live a practical lifestyle that is based on what works on a daily basis and allows us to enjoy a decent existence even though things aren't perfect. As Kekes points out, society evolves as a social organism that is governed by the way people learn to live on a daily plane rather than reach for the stars in search of the untenable philosophical principle that amounts to perfection. Logic cannot answer to what needs to be recognized in this whole discussion: we all lead individual lives that need to be reconciled to each other that hopefully leads to the greater happiness of all. In this earthly realm, trying to impose a high principle based on the wrongheaded wish for logical clarity, only results in making a mockery of the freedom we have to figure things out for ourselves with help from numerous sources. If my life is anything to go by, significant change has only come by making both big and little tweaks here and there over time.


The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Naive Trust in Shakey Alliances and False Hopes, March 15 2016
Clark does a very capable job in setting the record as to what really led to the outbreak of World War I. In the course of this very detailed study of the years leading up to this very incredible conflict involving world powers, the author does not single out any one particular country as being mainly responsible for triggering it. Unlike A. J. P. Taylor or Barbara Tuchman's respective theses that promote the notion that either collective or singular belligerency was the root cause, Clark looks at a wider picture of a Europe lulled into thinking that alliances, strategies, and diplomacy would be enough to counteract regional tensions. What became apparent by July 1914 was that none of the European powers really understood each other's relative positions. For example, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in its grief over the assassination of the Archduke and his wife, never really appreciated the strength of Serbian nationalistic desire to conquer the Balkans. Both sides became so preoccupied in relying on being vindicated that they resorted to old military alliances that widened rather contained any possible conflict. What nations like France and England failed to realize during this period was that they were part of an interconnected system of treaties that ultimately could not prevent war because it promoted the fallacy that victory could easily be achieved by forging grand alliances. What Germany, Austria, France, Britain, and Serbia did not realize was how poorly prepared they were to fight and win a protracted war on foreign territory, while depending on support from allies who themselves were woefully unprepared for such a deadly venture. Even the mighty German Empire was nothing but a deeply divided state groping around for the best way to help its ally, the Austrians, get justice, keep France and England at bay, while containing any war to a short duration. The most graphic and memorable part of the book has to be Clark's retelling of the assassination in Sarajevo. Talk about sleepwalking or not understanding the political terrain: the heir to the Austrian throne blissfully visiting an ultra-nationalist stronghold in Bosnia-Serbia with the minimum of protection. Read on and you will find many more such events where all parties to the eventual war just seemed unable to grasp the enormity of events as rolled together in a calamitous march to disaster.


Red Gold: A Novel (Night Soldiers)
Red Gold: A Novel (Night Soldiers)
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Intrigue of War at Its Best, March 9 2016
I am one of those Furst readers who keep coming back for another dose of adventure in the dark, shadowy alleyways of World War II. When it comes to capturing a real sense of danger and tension, Furst is without equal. This particular novel takes the reader, once again, into the life and times of Jean Casson, a down-on-his-luck filmmaker, who has been talked into helping France turn the tide against the Nazi occupiers in 1941. The assignment will not be easy. It will demand people who are patriotic, loyal, resolute, and charming. It will involve both the running of guns to the French Underground and the sabotaging of German supply lines. If that wasn't dangerous enough, there are deep personality differences and treachery threatening to derail the mission. You see, the Resistance is not a unified body, ready to take orders from De Gaulle in London. For one thing, the Communists march to Moscow orders and they really don't care how many Frenchmen die as long as Hitler is ultimately defeated.Then there are the Socialists who don't like the Gaullists or the Communists. All told, it is the many intrigues surrounding these internal conflicts that has Casson, the frustrated spy hopping from pillar to post to stay out of danger. Furst takes his hero to the brink a number of times in the story; on each occasion money arrives, fortunes change, or a timely cable appears. Don't read this book if you are looking for one big defining moment in the plot where justice is done and heroes are rewarded for their gallantry. Rather, this is a book that will take you into the teeth of the storm without getting blown away with a litany of unlikely events. Furst definitely wants his reader to regard this tale, like the others, as accurately reflecting the mood of the times: dangerous, potentially deadly, but never predictable.


Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess
Stalin's Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess
by Andrew Lownie
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 25.79
16 used & new from CDN$ 13.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling Charm, March 8 2016
Talk about being a natural charmer in a world that was fast growing dull from its lack of charm. No wonder dozens of influential toffs of the day, in high circles, took a shine to Guy Burgess, just another Cambridge undergraduate of the latter interwar years. As Lownie points out in this book, Burgess was no ordinary figure for the times: he was a combination of everything fantastic, repulsive and curious. Call him a superb polymath, with some polyglot abilities, because there was hardly a subject he would not wax eloquent on in some other language. Looking for an entertaining gadabout to hang out at a party and Burgess might be your man. Seeking a unique cultural impression and expression and you might want to have attended his theatrical performances. In all this, there were only three flaws in the man's character that ever threatened to break this incredible spell: vanity, homosexuality, and alcoholism. As long as these weaknesses were kept in check, Burgess was able to very effectively conduct a secret life that basically allowed him relatively unfettered access, as a mid-level Foreign Office official, to top British intelligence for the purpose of passing it on to the Soviets. This was the era in which there was a race on to who would develop a nuclear bomb first. While the events of this story are well known, Lownie introduces us to a part that deals with how Burgess successfully maintained his cover for so long against incredible odds. This story is full of the many sexual liaisons Burgess maintained on his way up the ladder in the organization. He definitely had protection from some very powerful people who were going to bed with him on a regular basis. The fact that he was always sympathetic to the Marxist cause meant that he took an avid interest in seeking out fellow students of aristocratic or bourgeois backgrounds who were ready to try something new. Within this sordid lifestyle, full of wild parties and bizarre assignations, Burgess led the way in forming a large group of bureaucrats who freely indulged in super espionage of the most treacherous nature. What the historical record shows in the severity of what Burgess, McLean, Philby, and Blunt did to damage the American nuclear program in the fifties is only outdone by the way the British government attempted to play it down. One, Burgess and his cohorts were always suspected of being deeply complicit in spying for the Soviets but were never brought to heel because of inside interference; two, when Burgess and Maclean, and later Philby flew the coop, MI5 conducted a very half-hearted search for their whereabouts and, when they finally surfaced in Moscow, refused to rule out the possibility that they could be repatriated without penalty. As was proven, life for Burgess in Moscow turned out to be too pedestrian for an individual with such riotous tastes. Lownie even suggests that perhaps the Russians were not all that keen on having these three turn to them for refuge. The glamorous lifestyle of being a spy, while never morphing into a guilt of being an outright traitor, never became the opportunity for adulation that Burgess always craved for. He lived his last years as a pathetic drunk, an unrequited homosexual, and far from home and loved ones.


Fractions Strategy Card Game MONKEY FRACTIONS for Kids of Grade 1 and Above to Learn Fraction Skills
Fractions Strategy Card Game MONKEY FRACTIONS for Kids of Grade 1 and Above to Learn Fraction Skills
Offered by SchoolCountry
Price: CDN$ 16.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monkey See, Monkey Do, March 7 2016
Monkey Fractions looks like an educational game that can engage young minds in the pursuit of grasping one of the more difficult fundamentals in math: fractions.The big concept of a part of a whole is very clearly defined in a competitive activity where the fraction is matched, as a face card, with one illustrating a picture showing two different objects in various quantities. Practice in the form of repetition is the key to this game. A player should have little trouble recognizing the ratio or relationship between numerator and denominator in relation to the total number of objects. Recognizing how that works moves the child along to dealing with them in the form of pie graphs. Do you realize that the early Egyptians invented fractions as a way of coping with a part of a whole number. My only concern about this game is that it doesn't mention anything about any preliminary instruction as to what a fraction actually means as two different numbers. While this game gets players to identify two different sets of numbers, as represented, for example, by yellow and orange stars in a picture, it may assume that they understand that adding them together will result in a total number of stars which equals the whole. This is an important lead-in that could easily be included in the game format with an earlier step where the participants are able to count the total number of objects in each card before proceeding to matching them.


ORVIBO WiWo-S20 Wi-Fi Smart Remote Control Timing Socket Plug
ORVIBO WiWo-S20 Wi-Fi Smart Remote Control Timing Socket Plug

5.0 out of 5 stars It works well for the home or office!, March 6 2016
While we are not tech savvy, we like the challenge of trying out new devices. This is one that, while taking a little time to set up on an Android device, the benefits can be many. You can be down in the basement in your office and program the timer on your slow cooker upstairs to start cooking at an appointed time. The time function works well for off and on positions. Just make sure it is on the right time zone. There is one small drawback with the fact that this device works only for one device at a time. For us it would likely be the kettle, internet radio, or crock.


Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
by Carl Hoffman
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.52
11 used & new from CDN$ 7.64

5.0 out of 5 stars A Convincing Theory, March 6 2016
As someone who grew up in the sixties, I do remember hearing about Michael Rockefeller's disappearance in the South Seas in 1961. What made this story big news at the time was that he was a Rockefeller scion on a mission to collect artifacts for a new family-backed museum. While rumors and legends abound as to what happened to this very gifted young man, nothing could be substantiated. That is until journalist Carl Hoffman stepped in and conducted his own thorough investigation of the facts. This book brings together a very large body of credible information that determines Michael's whereabouts, his movements, tribal contacts, their cultural practices, their previous contacts with white men, and subsequent police investigations. There isn't much that the author doesn't look at in an attempt to get to the bottom of this perplexing mystery. One, he treats this story as yet another fascinating encounter between two very dramatically different cultures, assuming that Rockefeller made it safely to shore to meet up with the Asmat people, based on some very reasonable calculations, that likely happened. Two, the encounter, given the facts that the Asmat were still viewed as cannibals intent on capturing the 'otherness' and that there was a party of young warriors returning from a raid up the coast a the time, took place resulting in Rockefeller's death. But that, by itself, does not help explain the motive as to why a stone-age tribe would butcher a white man who has suddenly washed up on their beach. To get at why the Asmat did this ferocious act, Hoffman turned to archival sources that described earlier encounters between the two groups. What he found revealed an earlier time when there was a much deadlier encounter that likely played itself out later in Michael''s death. Hoffman's compelling argument as to the reason for Rockefeller's unfortunate end points out, once again, that there are no simple explanations as to what we seek to understand. We become victims of consequences visited on us by the brutal and selfish actions of someone a generation before. Great piece of detective work that brings together a very probable scenario given all the facts available.


The McKinsey Edge: Success Principles from the World's Most Powerful Consulting Firm
The McKinsey Edge: Success Principles from the World's Most Powerful Consulting Firm
by Shu Hattori
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.45
26 used & new from CDN$ 23.88

5.0 out of 5 stars The Discipline of Being Focused on Getting the Best Results, March 4 2016
While I am not entrepreneurial by nature, I like the advice and wisdom that one can glean from self-help, motivational books like this one. As a project-driven individual, I need to constantly remind myself that there is a more effective way to completing a complex task if I am willing to seek and exercise best practices. Hattori lays out the master plan for getting the important things done in our lives in the form of forty-seven, easy-to-follow-and-apply principles, all of which are relevant to everyday living. At the head of the list is the big idea that we all need to prioritize what needs to get done first that adds value to the rest of the day. I take the opportunity to reflect on my core values like where I stand on the big issues: relationships, pending decisions and lifestyle. According to Hattori, this period of meditation should lead to making some tough choices like how to move on dealing with pressing needs. For me, that formulating of a strategy for finishing off some half-read books, along with reviews, before going on holidays. Since I am always striving to understand the big idea behind any professional writing, doing this will make me a better person. Setting a timeline and allowing for review is a good way to commit to getting something accomplished. Another nugget of advice worth heeding here is learning to vary one's schedule in completing the task. Take breaks along the way in order to prevent oneself from being too preoccupied with the task at hand. Hattori also points out the importance of sharing and communicating one's great designs and plans with others. For me, that means being prepared to allow that significant other in my life a chance to edit my book and film reviews before sending them off. He encourages his readers to see themselves as part of a larger community intent on learning from each other on how to communicate better. That invariably happens as we learn to ask more intelligent questions and be ready to intently listen for the full response. That can often best happen over a coffee or a meal with a friend, life partner, or business collegue.
on holidays.


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