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Book Review

Mott's CD review

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Book Review: Mendeleyev’s Dream

by Lang Reid

This book is just out in paperback, with its author Paul Strathern notable for his previous works examining famous scientific figures in history - Pythagoras, Archimedes, Galileo, Newton, Curie and many others, all of whom have had a significant effect on our society - even today.

Strathern writes well and maintains a fast pace through the book. He begins by chronicling the early philosophers, showing how the early thought influenced those coming afterwards (including us)! It is not dry details however, but rich vignettes such as Heraclitus who developed the water retaining ailment known as Dropsy. In an attempt to cure himself, “Retiring to a cow shed, he buried himself in manure, apparently in the hope that the noxious fluid in his body would be drawn out by the warmth of its noxious coating. This drastic method proved ineffective, and he died a noxious death.” And that’s no bull-poo! Or the description of the end of Empedocles who was to die when he leaped into the crater of Mt Etna in an attempt to prove to his followers that he was immortal. Strathern writes, “Opinion remained divided at the time, but over the years his lack of reappearance went against him.” And again, “The Romans were practical, rather than thinkers, and added nothing original to Greek thought. (It is said that the only Roman who appears in the history of mathematics is the one who slew Archimedes.)” Ah, if only some of my teachers had such a dry wit, history would not have been one of the classes that a junior Lang Reid was well known for falling asleep in!

Alchemy and how it ended up being involved in the production of the “Elixir of Life” is fascinating, even if more Chinese emperors died from poisoning from the Elixir of Life than ever gained immortality from it. The Elixir of Life indeed!

While we all blithely attribute the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci to be the outpourings of a brilliant and unique mind, author Strathern brings forward that many of da Vinci’s concepts were already published 200 years earlier by the very unique mind of Roger Bacon, (born 1214) who predicted steamships, automobiles, submarines and flying machines. He also predicted that man would be able to circumnavigate the globe and may even have been involved in the first European production of gun powder.

This book even shows the origins of aqua vitae, akvavit and usquebaugh (whisky), all very important substances today! All your favourite scientific characters are in this book, Erasmus, Copernicus and my particular favourite Paracelsus, plus a host of others. The book is amazing in its totality of approach.

The review copy came from Bookazine, corner of Beach Road and Soi Pattayaland 1 and is priced at 395 baht. It is a book that proves that analytical chemistry does not have to be dull, unfortunately for most of us, we have been previously exposed to dull presentations. Students and teachers alike should enjoy this book, and I would encourage the pedagogues in particular to take note of the style. A wonderfully readable scientific book.

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Mott’s CD review:

Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon

by Mott the Dog

***** 5 Stars Rating

Pink Floyd started out as the leaders of the London underground movement and from there progressed musically with the technology surrounding them.

After two psychedelic albums, they settled into more dreamy sound scopes, so after a further five albums, they produced “Dark Side Of The Moon”. This, in many ways, set the example for a lot of the bands that followed. Great material, excellent production and fine musicianship.

The basic theme of “Dark Side Of The Moon” is about the stresses and strains of everyday life. Roger Waters later came up with the idea of expressing the fears of ordinary people and how these drive people mad. In other words, Roger Waters wrote this while he was just mad, not mad at the world for being a World War 2 baby, which he has since become obsessive about in his later work. The Dark Side refers to what goes on inside people’s heads, the subconscious and the unknown. Recurring lyrical themes were used, such as mortality, madness, war, greed, stress and loneliness.

“Dark Side Of The Moon” had been performed in the Pink Floyd live set for more than a year when they went into Abbey Road studios to record, with Alan Parsons as the engineer.

The band had met in a rehearsal studio in London in November 1971 and began working on music for their next album. Over the course of the next two months, they wrote and rehearsed various musical ideas including bits and pieces that the band had written in the past. These included such songs as “Breathe” from the “Music From The Body” album (1970), “The Violent Sequence” that was written and recorded for the “Zabriskie Point” soundtrack (1971) which became “Us & Them”, and “Brain Damage” from a demo Waters had recorded whilst writing for the previous year’s “Meddle” album.

In the beginning, the songs were in no particular order. Roger Waters later came up with the idea of linking the pieces through a central lyrical theme, so once it was all cobbled together it was played in public in its live format in January, 1972 at the Brighton Dome, England. It was then released to the rest of the world in its studio recorded version in March 1973. Sales by 2000 had passed the 45 million mark and it had been a number one almost everywhere in the world, incredibly not though in their mother county the U.K where it was kept off the number one spot by “20 Flash Back hits of the sixties” of all things. The album stayed on the Billboards top 200 for a stunning 741 weeks.

The CD returned to the charts in 1991 after Billboard instituted its pop catalogue category where it went straight to number one and stayed on that chart for over seven years. So, not a bad little earner then.

The music has become the eternal soundtrack to student bed-sit land, the sound is lush and multi-layered whilst remaining clear and well structured. A fine album with a textural and conceptual richness that not invites, but demands involvement in the excellence of its superb performance. The sound effects on songs like “On The Run”, “Time” and “Money” (with sampled sounds of clinking coins and cash registers turning into a rhythmic accompaniment) are especially impressive, especially if we remember that 1973 was before the advent of digital recording techniques. This is probably Pink Floyd’s best known work and its an excellent place to start any CD collection. However, if you are feeling particularly flush then get Pink Floyd’s Live double CD “Pulse”, where the band (without Waters) lay down a definitive live version of “Dark Side Of The Moon” along with another hour and a half’s worth of Floyd’s best known work.

Pink Floyd were:

Roger Waters - bass, vocals
David Gilmour - guitar, vocals
Richard Wright - keyboard
Nick Mason - drums
Special mention to
Clare Torry, amazing vocals on “The Great Gig In The Sky”
And Dick Parry, for the sax on “Us & Them” & “Money”

Track Listing

1. Speak To Me
2. Breathe
3. On The Run
4. Time
5. The Great Gig In The Sky
6. Money
7. Us And Them
8. Any Colour You Like
9. Brain Damage
10. Eclipse

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Movie Review: American Pie 2

By Poppy

The five young men from the original movie reunite for the summer having just finished two semesters in college, Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Stifler (Seann William Scott). They have had a crazy year, Oz was with Heather (Mena Suvari) all year; Stifler claims to have slept with 23 women; Kevin was crying over Vicky (Tara Reid), Finch is still yearning for Stifler’s mum (Jennifer Coolidge).

They decide to rent a house between them on the lake and the story follows their sexual prowess throughout the summer.

The opening scene is with Jim, he’s finally getting some action on the last day of school and his Dad (Eugene Levy) walks in on him.

Two of the funniest parts of the movie were when Jim superglues himself to... himself, and when two women, who are thought to be lesbians, decide to teach the boys a well needed lesson.

This was definitely not my type of movie and I even had words with the person that insisted I use up my time to sit and watch it. I had to apologize, as I was laughing all the time - I couldn’t help myself, whether I just needed to chill out, or it really was a really funny movie I can’t make up my mind. I shall have to see it again to find out. You need to be fairly broadminded to enjoy it but what am I saying, we live in Pattaya!

Directed by James B. Rogers (II)


Jason Biggs ... Jim Levenstein
Shannon Elizabeth ... Nadia
Alyson Hannigan ... Michelle Flaherty
Chris Klein ... Oz
Natasha Lyonne ... Jessica
Thomas Ian Nicholas ... Kevin Myers
Tara Reid ... Vicky
Seann William Scott ... Stifler
Mena Suvari ... Heather
Eddie Kaye Thomas ... Finch
Eugene Levy (I) ... Jim’s Dad (Mr. Levenstien)
Chris Owen (I) ... Sherman
Molly Cheek ... Jim’s Mom (Mrs. Levenstien)

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