A cheap Chinese chainsaw turns out to be . . . quite good, actually

I’ve long argued that low price doesn’t always equal low quality.  There are a number of low-cost knives that offer excellent value for money:  for example, I must have half a dozen of the Mora range scattered around the place, including one right in front of me at my desk, and I use them more than all my other sheath knives combined.  Low-cost firearms are sometimes more dangerous to the user than to anyone else, but there are some that aren’t bad at all. The same appears to be true of chainsaws.  I normally wouldn’t trust a cheap chainsaw in

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Publishing: none so blind as those who will not see . . .

(EDITED TO ADD:  Following reader questions about this article, I’ve published a follow-up to it.  You’ll find the link at the end of this article.) I find it hard to understand why traditional publishers, particularly the so-called ‘Big 5‘, are so fixated on data that are manifestly incomplete and therefore inaccurate.  They’re making major business decisions based on flawed information . . . and it’s going to come back to bite them in the ass big-time. My thoughts were sparked by this article in Yahoo! News. U.S. publishers collected about $3 billion in trade ebook sales last year, virtually unchanged

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US premium housing – the ultimate money launderer?

New York magazine has a fascinating article on how the US high-end housing market is becoming the preferred means of money-laundering for shady characters all over the world.  Here’s a brief excerpt. According to data compiled by the firm PropertyShark, since 2008, roughly 30 percent of condo sales in large-scale Manhattan developments have been to purchasers who either listed an overseas address or bought through an entity like a limited-liability corporation, a tactic rarely employed by local homebuyers but favored by foreign investors. Similarly, the firm Corcoran Sunshine, which markets luxury buildings, estimates that 35 percent of its sales since

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Vertigo in 3… 2… 1…

Here’s a rider’s eye view of Goliath, the newest roller coaster ride at Six Flags Great America theme park in Chicago.  Wikipedia says of this roller coaster: It was designed by Rocky Mountain Construction and opened to the public on June 19, 2014. With the opening, the ride set three world records for wooden roller coasters: Drop length, drop steepness, and speed. It features the longest drop at 180 feet (55 m), the steepest drop at 85°, and the fastest speed at 72 miles per hour (116 km/h). There’s more at the link. They’re not joking about that steep drop. 

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More about the NSA’s contempt for the Constitution

I’m sure many readers have heard about William Binney, who raised red flags about the National Security Agency‘s conduct and ineffectiveness soon after 9/11.  In a two-part video interview with Bill Still, he talks about the Snowden revelations and what the agency is doing. Sobering stuff – and a call to action if ever I heard one!  Trouble is, our utterly ineffectual and/or bought-and-paid-for politicians won’t take action . . . Peter EDITED TO ADD: The remaining three parts of Mr. Binney’s interview may be found here.

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Ten great photo essays about the Great War

Readers will remember our frequent visits in 2011 to the Atlantic’s series of photo essays on the Second World War, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the US entry into that war in 1941.  The Atlantic’s just followed that triumphant achievement with a 10-part photo essay about the First World War.  Here are just a few of their many images, reduced in size to fit this blog. A French priest blesses an aircraft British BL 8-inch howitzers in action on the Western Front German A7V tank in action US gunners with their French Model 1916 37mm. cannon in 1918 The battleship

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The Great War and our modern economy

David Stockman has two excellent articles on how the First World War changed and affected the world economy over the past century.  He brings to light many points and issues that I’d never seen connected in that way before.  Here are a couple of excerpts from the first article. In fact, 1914 is the fulcrum of modern history. It is the year the Fed opened-up for business just as the carnage in northern France closed-down the prior magnificent half-century era of liberal internationalism and honest gold-backed money. So it was the Great War’s terrible aftermath—–a century of drift toward statism,

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