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Cyber Acoustics Subwoofer Satellite System (CA-3602a)
Cyber Acoustics Subwoofer Satellite System (CA-3602a)
Price: $37.99
104 used & new from $20.51

174 of 196 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent budget sound system that easily takes on the likes of Bose and more, January 29, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've been very impressed with this sound system since purchasing it about 2 months ago. The sound quality, volume, build quality, and overall aesthetics are outstanding, and outperform in my mind much more expensive systems I've spent a significant amount of time listening to or even previously owned from Bose, Klipsch, JBL, Logitech, or Cambridge SoundWorks. My only complaint is the on/off switch is a bit tough to flip with its location on the side of the volume dial rather than a push button on the side or top of the volume dial. Other than that, the range of the satellite speakers is excellent, and as long as you fine tune the bass volume out of the box, the system has excellent sound quality and can reach a floor rattling volume without much distortion. All for a bargain basement price.

I challenge anyone considering buying a system like Bose Companion 3 to try this first. You won't regret it. I will never overpay for quality desktop speakers again, and I would consider a full-sized home theater system from Cyber Acoustics if they made it.

For those looking for the system's specifications, I've listed them straight from the box:

30 watts total RMS
62 watts total system peak power
5.25" sub
2" satellite
Magnetically shielded
MP3 holder
Short auxiliary chord, in addition to computer input chord
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 11, 2014 8:22 AM PDT

The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy
The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy
by T. R. Reid
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.56
258 used & new from $0.01

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reid Misses the Point: It's Not an "End" but a "Beginning", September 7, 2006
The meteoric rise of economic and political unification of much of Europe under the banner of the European Union, with a spectacular rollout of the Euro and a tremendous consumer and business base, should certainly cause America to take notice. The United States of Europe details many of the developments leading up to the formation of the E.U. today, as well as the implications of a unified Europe. Much of the work is well-founded and comes from events Reid witnessed firsthand, yet a number of assertions of the book seem to lack corroboration or fail to address extremely important obstacles currently facing Europe. The book hits a low when Reid merely reiterates tired sound bytes regarding the Kyoto Protocol, International Criminal Court, and bans on antipersonnel landmines, without any information beyond each vote tally. Reid also fails to address the tremendous racial tension that is rife throughout Europe and Europe's continued economic turmoil stemming from the welfare state, as with the Paris riots in Fall 2005. More importantly, a powerful, united Europe complements rather than thwarts American interests due to a chance for even more economic and political cooperation. Reid's portrayal (until the last page of his book) of Europe's rise and unification as an impending cataclysm for the U.S. with the U.S. asleep at the wheel is not only unfounded, but also misses the burgeoning opportunities for collaboration.

Contrary to Reid's one-sided assertion that global business is booming in Europe, many European countries are moving quickly to shelter domestic industry from foreign competition or ownership in the face of a unifying Europe. The U.S. is certainly not free from protectionist measures either, but Reid does little to address the growing dichotomy between a unified Europe and the new walls that continue to divide the continent. The Wall Street Journal is reporting a "deep crisis" as many European governments frantically search for protectionist loopholes to reduce the impact of unification and globalization. Europe's agricultural subsidies to offset foreign competition continue to put even America to shame (nearly double the amount in the U.S.), while European protectionism is largely cited as the cause for collapse of the latest round (Doha) of World Trade Organization negotiations.

Many of the companies Reid cites as evidence of Europe's rise are true heavyweights in the global market (Fiat, Nestle, Cadbury Schweppes, Unilever, Red Bull, Airbus), but many of these companies achieved a global presence before the unification of Europe and from smart business decisions going back decades. Reid's take on the Airbus-Boeing matchup is particularly revealing. Reid trumpets the latest flagship from Airbus, the A380, as a resounding success without any mention of its history of gaffs and continued obstacles. Wall Street has declared the A380 a "debacle" given huge manufacturing costs with massive delays in production, wiring problems, and millions in penalty payments for the delays in production. While Airbus may be a great company that has encouraged healthy competition among its industry, it isn't quite the untainted model for success as suggested by The United States of Europe.

Throughout the book, European economic achievements are painted with the suggestion that corporate excesses, greed, and blunders are indicative of the U.S. and don't occur in the more moral and assiduous environs of Europe. Instead of describing U.S. companies that have thrived in Europe's transition to the E.U., Reid devotes an entire chapter to one person in one instance when things did not go well. Jack Welch is portrayed as the stereotypical street-smart, but malicious U.S. executive who is checked by the more adroit, ethical, and harder working Europe. The Honeywell/GE merger attempt was truly a debacle and Jack Welch is certainly not the epitome of ethics. But, the multitude of U.S. companies that have made huge inroads in Europe make it unconscionable to frame this Welch and Bush event as the typical interaction the U.S. has with Europe. Yet, Reid continues to assert that "most" Americans are "sleeping" through Europe's rise to power. Rather than being asleep at the wheel, U.S. businesses continue to find success in Europe, Americans increasing recognize the politics and products of the E.U., and America, both politically and economically, is able to recognize and meet the changes afoot. Europe may still prove to be the world's new superpower with soft political power, but its rise does not mean the ruin of America as Reid suggests until the last page of his book.

The United States of Europe asserts the E.U. is overtaking (or already has overtaken) the U.S. with the soft power of politics and money. It may very well be that Europe is on the fastrack to superpower status, but Reid seems to push important caveats to the wayside or out of his book entirely in order to frame the E.U. as a model superpower simply because it is not American. France's and the Netherlands' rejection of the European constitution in 2005 suggests more turmoil than alluded to in the book. Reid does acknowledge that U.S. military efforts past and present have not only created the environment that allows Europe to unify, but also allows Europe to indulge in social welfare given the freedom from defense budgets. However, as Reid is fanatically watching Europe, it seems he'll miss the even larger picture of the entire world slowly creating more and more ties (often through business) and the emerging economic power of SE Asia. Perhaps most interesting is that while the unification of Europe is an important achievement, many of the reforms instituted in Europe to form the E.U. are already present in the U.S. or borrow heavily from our own constitutional debates. Rather than witnessing the fall of U.S. supremacy, it seems flattery on the largest scale is occurring right before our eyes.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 14, 2007 5:34 AM PDT

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
by Barbara Ehrenreich
Edition: Paperback
1557 used & new from $0.01

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nickel, Dimed, and the Questions that Remain, August 16, 2006
In a cross-country, low-wage endeavor, journalist Barbara Ehrenreich explores the depths of poverty at a time renowned for its opulence in her work, Nickel and Dimed. Her findings are eye-opening as she discovers minimum wages hold "an overwhelming, dank sense of failure": low-wage employees often struggle to make ends meet, injuries in the workplace are a common occurrence, and workers toil through long hours of strenuous labor with little sympathy and even less of a prospect for a positive future (48).

Unfortunately for Ehrenreich, the power of her novel falters beyond its literary merit and pure emotional appeal. A few short pages into the piece, the political motivation for writing such a novel becomes readily apparent as Ehrenreich rescinds her promise to serve as a candid journalist and, instead, resorts to slanted statistics and language in an effort to stoke sympathy for herself as much as, if not more than, those laboring around her. Rather than depicting the plight of those in low-wage occupations and then seeking to understand the economic causes for such conditions, the reader is told the whole problem stems from "the wonks who brought us welfare reform" without any meaningful attempt to support such claims (4). Ehrenreich even admits: "I don't know how my coworkers survive on their wages or what they make of our hellish condition" (89). If she does not know how those who are working minimum wage are living or what they think of their surroundings, what is the intent of the book? Ehrenreich would have been better served spending her time examining why Wal-Mart has become the world's largest corporation and what that means about the demands of its consumers and employees alike rather than doing an injustice to those in poverty by attacking the company that continues to deliver low cost goods and employ her coworkers.

Ehrenreich turns to Europe in search of a model representative of all that is right in the working world in contrast with the United States, claiming, "Europeans, no doubt spoiled by their trade union-ridden, high-wage welfare states, generally do not know that they are supposed to tip [in the U.S. because they don't have to in Europe]" (19). Unfortunately for her, much of Europe is literally downing in debt--yes, even more than the "horrible" U.S. in terms of GDP--as unemployment is hovering around nine to eleven percent and employment regulations across the board are stifling those who are searching for better work.

Employing additional economic slight-of-hand, Ehrenreich cites stagnate incomes for the poor as an indicator of their plight. "In the first quarter of 2000, the poorest ten percent of workers were earning only ninety-one percent of what they earned in the distant era of Watergate and disco music" (203). However, its not clear if this statistic is adjusted for inflation and the statistic is an inaccurate evaluation of change over time for individuals--that is to say, a person in such a low-income category is unlikely to remain there for an extended period. Evidence for this more accurate portrayal of poverty is the University of Michigan's Panel Survey on Income Dynamics. This study discovered more than half of individuals earning the lowest twenty percent of earnings in the country had a five-fold increase in wages in four years or less, while only five percent of all individuals in the bottom quintile remained there after fifteen years. In all, it would seem the only time Ehrenreich truly alluded to the economics around her was with a sarcastic remark: "After all, if there weren't people who had far too much money and floor space and stuff, there could hardly be maids" (108).

In her attempt to blame specific groups (conservatives, managers, and the wealthy) for the plight of the poor, Ehrenreich detracts from what could be a valid and important message: "the poor have disappeared from the culture at large, from its political rhetoric and intellectual endeavors as well as from its daily entertainment" (117-118). Instead, she employs paltry few statistics to validate her claims and even less exploration of the lives of those around her. In her final conclusion, Ehrenreich reasons we should feel "shame at our own dependency on the underpaid labor of others" while conveniently disregarding the myriad of products available and produced in this and other countries that makes nearly every good in America affordable (221).

More importantly, Ehrenreich fails to explain how her own father brought his entire family out of poverty, "My father...managed to pull himself, and us with him, up from the mile-deep copper mines of Butte to the leafy suburbs of the Northeast, ascending from boilermakers to martinis," and why she now feels this upward mobility is no longer possible in America; maybe she believes that hourly-wage workers simply are incapable of anything but tragedy (18). Perhaps the real question is: what did Ehrenreich do with all the money she made writing this political censure? And would she and the rest of America be willing and able to find--let alone pay for--products only produced at premium wages? Nickel and Dimed has certainly helped shed light on the poor since it was released, but not without a few flaws. The real tragedy of the piece is the lack of focus on Ehrenreich's coworkers and the startling absence of any mention regarding the most important way to begin to lift her coworkers from poverty: education.

Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (Book 4)
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (Book 4)
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.99
1039 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully written, perfect for all ages., July 10, 2000
Having read all of the four Harry Potter books, I highly recommend this series to people of all ages. These novels have noticeably increased kid's interest in reading, (as well as adults!) because of the sheer enjoyment of these episodes. With Harry Potter as the daring star of the series, he along with numerous friends and foes create exciting, intriguing, and heartwarming journeys with the turn of each page. The fourth book of this sequence adds another adventuresome year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with Harry Potter coming once again face to face with Lord Voldemort. Harry has his hands full once again in book four, most particularly because You-Know-Who is now back with full power and ready to regain his dark supremacy. Grab the newest book today, (and the rest of the series too!) and start reading ... you won't regret it!

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