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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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Parachase A1 Men's Auto Open/close Windproof Portable Compact Umbrella Black
Parachase A1 Men's Auto Open/close Windproof Portable Compact Umbrella Black
Offered by Parachase
Price: CDN$ 28.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a compact brolly that works, Feb. 18 2016
I am totally satisfied with this compact umbrella. During what has proven to be a very wet and stormy January in Victoria, I needed something that would stand up to the gusting winds and slanting rain, while easy to grip, open and close and be made of durable material. Without question, this product passes the El Nino test with flying colors. It comes with a strong post, reinforced ribbing, springloaded closing action, and water-repellent fabric that allows it to dry quickly.


The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in the House of Magic
The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in the House of Magic
Offered by Macmillan CA
Price: CDN$ 13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Being One's Brother's Keeper, Feb. 14 2016
In this stranger-than-fiction tale of modern science keeping company with the forces of modern literature and national security, Ginger Strand introduces her readers to two brothers who form the most unlikely of relationships built on the ability of one to alter the views of the other through the power of the pen rather than the sword. Bernie and Kurt may have grown up as typical siblings back in the thirties, members of a well-educated German-American family, with plenty of prospects for success. But along came World War Ii and changed anything they shared in common.Bernie, the boy genius and favorite son, was off to MIT, hankering to become an eminent environmental scientist.Unlike younger brothrr Kurt who flunked out of Cornell in the sciences and was eventual conscripted, Bernie was hired for a top-level research job with General Electric in Upper State New York. While Kurt suffered the horrors and savagery of war both as a soldier at the Battle of the Bulge and prisoner of war during The Dresden bombing, Bernie stayed home to work some mysterious but benign weather project called Operation Cirrhus. When Kurt returns home, his first job, as someone with a flair to write,is to promote the wonders of the new age of peace as found in the technological creations of GE.That would not last long because Kurt was growing uncomfortable in the knowledge that GE was potentially leading the world back into war, what with all its militaristic designs. Bernie may have been nicely ensconced in a well-paying job on a bizarre project to create rsin and snow, his younger brother was no longer wanting to be part of these Brave New World experiments. As a journalist for the New York Times and an accomplished novelist, Kurt wrote about his war experiences in an attempt to expose the sinister connection between big government and professional scientists who may unwittingly doing their bidding in the pursuit of war. I will allow the reader the right to discover the ultimate truth that distills from this brotherly relationship that, though never close because of diametrically opposing views, did attempt to reconnect later in the fifties. Vonnegut would always claim that his warnings were those who were too trusting of science and technology to save the world from tyranny, ignorance, and greed. To that end, Strand might have explored a little deeper Kurt's deep loathing for war, and how it is only made worst by its incessant desire to exploit humanity. Thank goodness there was enough public pressure brought to bear to stop large-scale cloud-seeding.


The Emperor of Paris
The Emperor of Paris
by CS Richardson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.47
17 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Feel for the City of Light in a Different Age, Feb. 11 2016
This review is from: The Emperor of Paris (Hardcover)
This is a love story that has to be felt as well as read to be enjoyed. Like the smooth-flowing Seine that occupies the heart of this impressionistic tale of subtle and improbable romance, life unfolds at its own tantalizing pace. As this novel unwinds, the pedestrian pursuits, tastes, and expectations of the old world will gradually segue magically into a new world of feeling, desire and passion for the new and enchanting. People like Octavio and Isabeau will come out of their subterranean existences to learn that there is a whole new world of culture awaiting them at, of all places, the book stalls. Imagine falling in love with art because you have taken the time to discover what is taking place outside your narrow existence in, of all places, the heart of Old Paris. Hardly novel when one remembers that this process is how many of us learn over time, but it is the setting that makes the difference here. Richardson, by a series of clever artistic strokes, allows two lonely souls to be drawn together in the most innocent of ways: the return of a lost book they both have read and enjoyed The power of this novel comes in the fact that it grows on you. No big explosive moment; only the compelling feeling that it is going somewhere important in matters of the heart.


Crime Scene Investigations
Crime Scene Investigations
by Daniel J. Baum
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.46
12 used & new from CDN$ 11.45

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Instructive Primer on Legal Rights and Responsibilities, Feb. 10 2016
This latest book by Professor Baum on the extent of police authority in gathering evidence and making arrests is an excellent resource for all and sundry. Its contents cover everything from being read one's rights to being questioned to being searched to being surveilled to being frisked to laying a complaint. What preserves this book from becoming just another dry interpretation of the law is the engaging manner in which the author handles this subject: fairly current case studies accompanied by legal judgments and opinions as they pertain to the enforcement of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A common theme throughout the book that Canadian criminal and civil law attempts, at all times, to strike an acceptable balance between the interests of the state and the individual. Those of us who have become fixated on American television series like Law & Order might be interested to know that reading a suspect their rights means something different north of the border. Police interviews generally proceed with a caution as to the right to remain silent and obtain counsel, which may be issued throughout the session. At no time does the interrogation stop, even if the person being questioned remains silent or lawyers up. If the individual then decides to voluntarily talk, the caution no longer has to be given, all this taking place without a lawyer in the room. Obviously, the legal system gives police the right to investigate while ensuring the individuals the right not to cooperate if it is not in their best interests. Given the vulnerability of a typical criminal mind, the longer the interrogation goes the greater the chance of a confession obtained through the introduction of false evidence, such as found in a Mr. Big sting operation. Once again, the courts give law enforcement a certain discretionary leeway as long as the suspect has been fully informed of his rights. I recommend this book to anyone who has a strong opinion, one way or the other, about this country becoming a police state. Nothing could be further from the truth.


Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist
Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist
by Niall Ferguson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 38.95
41 used & new from CDN$ 10.46

5.0 out of 5 stars A Study Done to Scale, Feb. 8 2016
Henry Kissinger has always been one of those enigmatic people in modern times who defies being categorized as this or that or anything in between. What many of us tend to do when we don't understand the chameleon features of a Kissinger - diplomat extraordinaire - we often attribute sinister, self-serving motives to otherwise benign or honorable actions. While Isaacson's seminal work on the life and times of the man tells us plenty about how his character was shaped by war, immigration, and intellectual and political heavyweights, it doesn't give us the critical insight into how Henry maneuvered his way through successive periods of history to finally reach the pinnacle of success where he got to test out his ideas. That story is left to Ferguson to tell that Kissinger started out with, in the late forties as he made his way as a young Jewish immigrant in post-war America, a big idea as to how to remake the world politically. Basically, it came down to the major powers having enlightened respect for each other's position with regards to the military interests. His was a Kantian view based on the principle that there is a moral universalism that can only be realized through seeking frank and open dialogue. When that happens, a realistic balance of power should negate the need to revisit old conflicts. The big irony here is that in order to attract support for its implementation, Kissinger would have to endure twenty years of trudging the road less traveled in search of a power base that would bring the big idea to fruition. What Kissinger was looking for, in essence, was both an autocratic power - like an old-fashioned Bismarck - figure who would be the authority that he was working out in the halls of academia at Harvard. A new real politic that cut through the fears and uncertainty of the Cold War. Throughout this journey, Kissinger will search out various ways to try out his theories, even if it means crossing party lines to get caught up in trying to make sense of dirty wars like Vietnam. What he learns from this venture was that the Kennedy and Johnson administrations were hopelessly caught up in a war of their own invention without a means of escape. When his big chance to make a difference comes with being appointed as chief national security adviser to Nixon in 1968, he quickly learned how quickly his ideals could be challenged by the reality of an unbalanced and unpredictable boss coupled with wily North Vietnamese leadership. If peace is going to come, it will take everything Machiavellian in Kissinger to hold on to the grand notion and being willing to cut a deal in the end that would be anything but honorable. Maybe by 1972, Dr. Kissinger finally learned that a honorable peace, with American dignity intact, was probably never possible given the ferocity of the war.


Hotel Terminus: The Life & Times of Klaus Barbie (Version française)
Hotel Terminus: The Life & Times of Klaus Barbie (Version française)
DVD ~ n/a
Price: CDN$ 36.34
16 used & new from CDN$ 31.15

5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth Many Wanted Covered Up, Feb. 6 2016
I recently watched a German film on the life and times of Klaus Barbie, the infamous Gestapo chief for the city of Lyons between 1942 and 1944. By far, it had to be the best investigative documentary I have ever watched on a historical subject so riddled with controversy, fear, and loathing. Why would this German team of crack investigators and journalists want to compile a lengthy film covering the life of someone so wicked a psychopath who tortured and murdered his victims in order to break the French underground? That storyline is already well known, so why flog a dead horse. Well, the answer is complex, to say the least. Something is going on below the surface. Uneasy consciences and guilty minds are starting to surface. By the time this documentary is done, it is not going to be just Barbie who will be exposed as being evil. To begin with, French authorities got their hands on the elusive Barbie by bringing him back from South America to stand trial for war crimes. It is 1988, and Barbie is a very sick man when the courts give him a life sentence for his crimes. On the surface, that is the plot as far as justice finally being served. But there is a whole other side of this disturbing tale that needs to be told. Questions as to how Barbie managed to avoid prosecution and the death penalty in 1946 still require answers that this team will tirelessly dedicate itself to finding. Back in Lyons there are families of his victims demanding justice for all his atrocities. What these extensive interviews will show is that many so-called decent locals collaborated with Barbie and the Nazis in sending Jews, Resistance members, and young children to their deaths under the most hideous of circumstances. After the war, the American occupation forces knowingly used Barbie and his criminal gang as an intelligence source to infiltrate. What I found very compelling about these many troubling interviews is that they were very probing, sensitive, and revealing as to what the truth really is. This search brought out four very interesting responses from the interviewees: indifference, denial, cooperation, and revenge. This major study proves, once again, that justice doesn''t exist if it isn''t accompanied by a search for the truth.


Paris To the Past: Traveling Through French History By Train
Paris To the Past: Traveling Through French History By Train
by Ina Caro
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.94
33 used & new from CDN$ 6.82

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some Very Viable Touring Options, Feb. 3 2016
It is travelogues like this that make touring so engaging a holiday option. Caro and her husband have become the consummate guides of getting the most out of a vacation in an ancient land like France. Their plan starts with first educating themselves on the culture and history of the area before setting foot on its soil. If France is meant to be your focus, find something to get fired up about. For them, it is the fabled history of kings, abbeys and cathedrals. For me, it was battlefields along the Western Front. Once that knowledge base is established, then comes the delicious opportunity of going out and viewing first-hand the wonders of what you have read about. For this couple, it is a delightful motor trip into the Loire Valley (Kings), followed by a series of very convenient day trips from Paris, by train, to some of the more illustrious spots in French history. After you read this book, you will no longer see the City of Light as the be-all-to-end-all in French culture and iconography. Their story, while living in Paris, covers a number of trips in which they explored a number of cathedral cities ranging from the regal splendors of St.Denis, the quaintness of Leon, the ethereal majesty of Reims, the sacrality of Chartres and numerous others. This is no whirlwind tour. The author shares detail that connects us to the significant changes in architecture, custom, and ethos as France moved from feudal to modern times. Her book is so vividly written that I had no problem understanding that special relationship between monarch and church. Once again, history has done a number on its many splendors and relics, what with the destruction of monasteries, cathedrals, and burial sites during the French Revolution.


Being Nixon: A Man Divided
Being Nixon: A Man Divided
by Evan Thomas
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 33.72
22 used & new from CDN$ 33.71

5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Unequivocal Examination of a Tortured Soul, Feb. 2 2016
I've read few rompingly-good political biographies in my time, and most make a good case as to why the individual in question should, on balance, be remembered for all the right reasons. In "Being Nixon, A man Divided", prominent American journalist Evan Thomas goes one step further: instead of trying to force the issue as to Richard Nixon's presidential place in history, he frames his discussion in terms of a dilemma. Nixon can only be objectively understand in the context of a Shakespearean tragic figure who genuinely wants to do good but continually fails because of a significant character flaw. This study de-emphasizes the ideological in favour of the pathological to get at what truly brought this man down. It wasn't anyone in particular that was the critical nemesis, though Nixon was one very reviled person in Washington circles, nor was it any one particular incident that tipped the balance, though the setting up of the Plumbers in the White House in 1971 comes close. Instead, Thomas introduces us to a credible narrative where Nixon, over a period of five years, repeatedly made executive decisions that bordered on the deeply troubling and borderline crazy. Narcissism and delusional paranoia are terms that come to mind when I read this account. It would appear that Nixon's lack of sound judgment as president could be traced to an aberrant desire to get back at his perceived enemies - the press, the Kennedies, the State Department, Leftists - who tried to prevent him controlling his own destiny. Failure to settle the Vietnam conflict and various economic crisis made his presidency one of growing turbulence in which the blame was entirely everyone else's.


Outsider in the White House
Outsider in the White House
Price: CDN$ 13.17

4.0 out of 5 stars The 'Bern Identity' Born Large, Jan. 28 2016
As a moderate Conservative, I find I am spending more time pursuing new political interests like listening to Vermont Public Radio, trying to make sense of the Progressive agenda, and keeping tabs on how it may be changing the American political landscape. To that end, reading Bernie Sanders' "Outsider in the White House" has enormously helped me clarify the finer points of this growing movement of independent politics. Besides being treated to the fascinating story of Bernie's life in the political trenches of Vermont, the reader will learn what is legitimately democratic and popular about his brand. From being the Independent mayor of Burlington in the late 80s to being congressman throughout the nineties to being its junior senator in this century, Sanders has always put the economic and social needs of the 'little guy' first. His grassroots organization, he claims, works tirelessly to make sure the gap between the rich and poor starts to shrink. As the record seems to show, Bernie has gone to Washington to make a difference: lots of social legislation with his name - and like-minded colleagues - on it meant to return government to the people that includes tax and healthcare reform for added effect. He believes that many of the issues plaguing America today, not least of all poverty and declining educational standards, could be easily addressed if the fat were trimmed from the federal budget. Where Sanders runs into difficulty in working out his grand vision might be the fact that he has literally declared war on Corporate America to the point of dismissing it as more of a hindrance than a help in restoring America's economic greatness. Cooperatives, public compacts, and local lobbies seem to be the route Sanders feels comfortable with in leading the people to a better world where they control their destiny. Like it or not, that dream will not materialize unless big money is allowed to participate in such initiatives as searching for alternative energy forms.


Alldaymall A88X 7'' Tablet - Android 4.4, Quad Core, HD 1024x600, Dual Camera, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 8GB, 3D Game Supported - Black
Alldaymall A88X 7'' Tablet - Android 4.4, Quad Core, HD 1024x600, Dual Camera, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 8GB, 3D Game Supported - Black
Offered by Alldaymall

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Travel Companion, Jan. 25 2016
Without getting too technical, this device is easy to turn on, easy to use, easy to shut down, and provides the same functions as my Samsung Galaxy Tab3, albeit on a smaller scale. It is light and small enough to be carried in a handbag or large pocket and is great to use while travelling. A small drawback is that one has to go to the Internet to find out how to connect to Wi-Fi. The instruction leaflet could be more informative as to the various functions. Overall, not bad for price.


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