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Country: Asia, MY, Malaysia

City: Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur

  • Jerry Brown - A very unusual bookThis is a remarkable book. It reads like a detective novel; but it's subject is actually economics - specifically, how the Soviet Union's centralized economy was designed and why it failed. Each chapter could stand on its own as a terrific short story with great characters and lots of local color. But, as the stories progress, you discover that you're following and understanding a larger, more complicated story.
    Remember when Khrushchev and Nixon had the famous "kitchen debate" at the Moscow American technology exhibit in 1959 and Khrushchev boasted "In 7 years we will reach the level of America. When we catch up and pass you by, we'll wave to you."? You learn from Spufford that one reason Khrushchev felt confident enough to make the boast is that the Soviet Union had, at just that time, made a huge investment in an entire city devoted to science and mathematics. It was called Akademgorodok (academy town) and was, at its peak, staffed with 65,000 scientists and mathematicians. One of the goals of this establishment was to develop both the mathematics and the computer systems necessary to make the Marxist economic vision a reality. Of course, we know the outcome. That was settled when the Soviet Union collapsed. But, the important thing the book offers for any American who lived through the cold war is not the outcome. It's what we didn't know at the time - the part of history that was happening behind the iron curtain. And once you read it, you'll understand more clearly why China decided to move to a market-based economy. We assume they learned from us. I now think it's likely they learned more from the USSR's failure.
    There is another lesson I took from this book. The Soviet leaders refused to learn from experience because they couldn't shake loose from the grip of Marxist ideology. Their best scientists and mathematicians were telling them that the only way to avoid economic failure was to allow supply and demand to establish prices. But that was a heresy that couldn't be tolerated. It was too much like capitalism. I look at our politics today and wonder if some of the most vocal advocates of capitalism are now making a similar mistake by refusing to consider ideas that seem too much like socialism.
  • Read4Life - Beautiful HybridWhen I first read the description of the book, I was quite intrigued. The idea of combining the classic "Count of Monte Cristo" and juxtaposing against the brilliant wit of the great Sherlock Holmes seemed like a tall order. Skepticism aside, I started the book and finished it within two days because I enjoyed it immensely. I read Count of Monte Cristo in high school and became enthralled with Sherlock Holmes in my years after college. Ever since watching the new "Sherlock" BBC TV series, I've been craving pretty much anything Sherlock Holmes related.

    This book did a great job of re-telling a story that I appreciated in my younger years and it did so using one of my favorite literary/film/TV characters. The story alternates between the story and Sherlock's interactions with his esteemed colleague. The writing was excellent and I thought the transitions were handled very well. When you're writing something that's based on sound literature, you assume character/storyline development is going to be good, but transitions are an are where you might fear the reading to burdensome. Happily, the author pulled it off.

    Age wise, I'd recommend this to well read teens and up. The only caution I must give is that there are references to drug and alcohol use. This is an inherent element of the literary Sherlock Holmes and it didn't bother me, but I know that some people have lower thresholds for what they consider appropriate for a younger audience.

    I think the people who are really going to get the most enjoyment are those that are familiar with both pieces of referenced literature. If you love one element and aren't familiar with the other though, then this is a perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to something new. Overall, I highly recommend it and I am impressed. Finding good independent fiction isn't easy, but this one managed it.
  • Fat Elvis - Seasoning for the face!!!As a cop, I have been suffering from quite severe boredom for some time, curb stomping and bludgeoning were fun for a while but I'm getting older now and I don't seem to have the energy anymore. I was speaking with my shrink a few weeks ago and she thought that my usual good humour, fed by my manic psychotic episodes, was in danger of being overcome by depression.

    She suggested that I take up walking, but it just wasn't doing it for me.

    Well thank the good lord for blessing us with the almighty power of Defense Technology 56895 MK-9 Stream, 1.3% Red Band/1.3% Blue Band Pepper Spray

    You won't believe the results. Not only does it make it easy to administer high levels of pain and suffering, it does so without the need for brutality which of course looks much more positive when being viewed on a camera phone video played back in the news.

    A gentle spray to the face at close range as you breeze past citizens, it almost looks jaunty, and while it delivers the same high levels of pain, it is much easier to defend against in court than a baton across the skull.

    Well I can tell you friends, my walks have really spiced up my life since I introduced Defense Technology 56895 MK-9 Stream, 1.3% Red Band/1.3% Blue Band Pepper Spray into the mix. I'll soon be back to my old self again. Can't wait to get back out there and really give it to all those smug little F***wits who think they're better than me. I've got a uniform dammit.

    On a side note, I was feeling whimsical and emptied two full cans into the face of a cow, it subsequently died from the shock and pain. However, on grilling the steaks from the beast, we found them to be seasoned perfectly.