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Dirk J. Willard "Dirk Willard" RSS Feed (Chicago, IL)
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The Next Three Days
The Next Three Days
DVD ~ Russell Crowe
Price: $5.00
106 used & new from $0.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Great thriller, July 24, 2014
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This review is from: The Next Three Days (DVD)
I took notes on this one. As a guy who may someday be on the wrong side of the law I found this story enlightening. The truth is this guy's wife went to jail because the police were lazy and didn't do their jobs. As a story, this movie is both fascinating and thrilling. I rank this as one of Russell Crowe's best movies.

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A People's History of the World: From the Stone Age to the New Millennium
A People's History of the World: From the Stone Age to the New Millennium
by Chris Harman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.98
82 used & new from $9.20

5.0 out of 5 stars A good read, not a good reference, July 24, 2014
I gave this book 5 stars because it is an excellent idea. However, to properly cover the world would take several volumes like the Durants did it with their epic series on history. Will and Ariel Durant wrote a series on world history entitled “The Story of Civilization.” ''Rousseau and Revolution,'' a book in that series, won the Pulitzer Prize. “A People’s is not of this caliber.
With that said, I will say that the book was enlightening. As with Zinn’s People’s History of the United States, Harman manages to unearth history not covered, or covered badly, by American textbooks on history. Harman pulls together certain facts on the fall of the Roman republic:
“Slave labour led to the impoverishment of free labour ….”
“Brunt relates how ‘the poor could not afford to marry and, if married, to raise children. Families were limited by abortion and infanticide, if not by contraception.’ Many children abandoned by poor parents would end up in the slave markets.’
‘The leading families used their political control to increase their already substantial landholdings at the expense of the peasantry, pushing them into debt, taking their land and relying on the judges to find in favour of the Patricians.’
Eventually, the Patricians, represented in the Senate, were forced to allow nomination of Tribunes to protect the Plebeians from the magistrates (judges) (who were in the hands of the Patricians.
Two such tribunes, Tiberius Gracchus and his brother Gaius, who were too troublesome for the Senate ---- because they were active in their support of the poor --- were murdered by the Patricians. Eventually, this class warfare resolved itself by nomination of the Czar. The role of the Czar was to assure the power of Patricians who had begun to fight among themselves.
In American history text books, the Gracchus brothers are described as transferrers of wealth. Definitely a capitalist perspective. I’m surprised they didn’t smear them in red by confusing communism with socialism.
A good read, if you poke through a chapter at random, as I did. I will keep this book on my shelf with hopes that the author writes an improved second edition.
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Distillation Troubleshooting
Distillation Troubleshooting
by Henry Z. Kister
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $120.36
34 used & new from $99.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great cases!, July 19, 2014
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Excellent, case-by-case, description of distillation problems Henry Kister has solved during his distinguished career. As a contributing editor to Chemical Processing magazine, I find his case problems helpful in developing puzzles for the magazine.

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Atlantic Summit Media Cabinet 261CD/114DVD/132BluRay/Games Espresso
Atlantic Summit Media Cabinet 261CD/114DVD/132BluRay/Games Espresso
Price: $39.09
74 used & new from $34.85

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but not great, July 19, 2014
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Adequate. Handle assembly with care. The lock washers will become loose during the final assembly. That final assembly, the nailing of the back cover, is awkward. The bottom plate is longer than the rest for stability. By laying the cabinet flat, to nail the back cover in place, the sections above will be stretched and some of the lock washers will become loose. I wouldn't plan on moving this cabinet much because of the damage done by stretching. The cabinet works, has good capacity and is very compact, but this negative could bother some people.

To the builders: perhaps have the back cover section for the bottom attached separately.

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Sony NWZE385 16 GB Walkman MP3 Video Player (Black)
Sony NWZE385 16 GB Walkman MP3 Video Player (Black)
Price: Click here to see our price
26 used & new from $58.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Just the right size for convenience, July 19, 2014
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Excellent MP3 player. I bought one for myself and for a friend who loves it. The mobility is excellent, the radio works very well.


1 lb Powder Boric Acid 99.9+% Pure Anhydrous (Dry) Mold Insects Pests
1 lb Powder Boric Acid 99.9+% Pure Anhydrous (Dry) Mold Insects Pests
Offered by Duda Energy
Price: $6.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Just the right size., July 19, 2014
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The boric acid was the perfect size for dealing with a small outbreak of ants.


Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future
Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future
by Robert B. Reich
Edition: Hardcover
154 used & new from $0.04

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Missing nuts and bolts., July 19, 2014
The argument Robert Reich puts forward is well-founded. French economist, Thomas Piketty, recently all but proved it based on French tax records dating back 150 years: economics melt down when the rich lock away money in capital gains. However, this book fails, as so many do, to deliver solid, workable ideas for dealing with the problems.

One of Reich's ideas, "higher marginal tax rates on the wealthy," is an excellent idea but ignores the barb wire, i.e., all the defensive protections banks and governments have conspired to create to help the rich hide there money. Let's start there, instead of introducing another tired plan of taxing the rich. I would suggest employing an NSA-type spy agency solely for collecting taxes from the rich.

Another idea is the "re-employment system rather than an unemployment system." This is a grand idea but like so many ideas there is no detail on how this could work in a modern society.

Another vague dream is the old re-training idea. I have a relative who worked in an automotive plant. He was trained to repair robots until even that job went away a few years later. Have you ever looked at what jobs are hot? The high school councilors nearly always get their information wrong or too late. For this to work, you need companies training people to do real jobs. That's how it works in Europe, especially in Germany.

As I said, a good read until Reich gets to the nuts and bolts.

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Gorilla Carts GOR866D Heavy-Duty Garden Poly Dump Cart with 2-In-1 Convertible Handle, 1,200-Pound Capacity, 40-Inch by 25-Inch Bed, Black Finish
Gorilla Carts GOR866D Heavy-Duty Garden Poly Dump Cart with 2-In-1 Convertible Handle, 1,200-Pound Capacity, 40-Inch by 25-Inch Bed, Black Finish
Offered by Bargain Ben
Price: $189.00
5 used & new from $99.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great cart, sometimes a challenge to put together: worth it, June 7, 2014
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Sometimes a two-man job.

First, the tools. It helps if you have metric sockets and a wrench, though you can substitute imperial sockets.
Second, you will need spanners as well as sockets. These are required for a tight fit.
Third, you will need to bore out some of the holes.

Fourth, and most important: plan a trip to the store for some spare parts. During the assembly a nut and a carriage bolt were not tapped correctly and took significant effort to disassemble.

Fifth, some components were faulty. The front strut, item G, was not bent correctly. I couldn’t get both G struts to fit with the 13 mm wrenches. Instead, I built one as shown in the instructions, anchored the second strut with a 13 mm bolt and nut and went to the hardware store for a ¼-inch replacement: ¼-in. bolt, washer and lock nut (AKA stop nut) and 0.375-in. washer to mate up to the ¼-in. washer for support. The 1/4"-in. washer allowed me to attach the G strut and even bend it into place at the yoke (H part).

Sixth, the C components are a little tricky. The drawing was deceptive: the orientation is opposite of as shown in the drawings. The flat side should face towards the rear axial so that the bolt hole above lines up correctly.
Word to the wise, don’t tighten anything down until they tell you to in the instructions: every nut is a lock nut in project. If you get it wrong you will have to apply great force to disassemble. My approach is to put everything together in my hands to see how it fits, then test the tools to make sure I have the right sockets and such, then inspect the bolts and then finally do the assembly.

Assembly consists of three challenging sections: 1) assembly of the front section of the chassis; 2) assembly of the rear section of the chassis; and 3) attachment of the bucket (called the tray) to the rear section of the chassis. The third section is the most challenging.

This third section in the assembly requires two people. Worst still, you will want to duct-tape the rear axial assembly (E) to the rear frame (D) during the assembly of the rear section; the instructions seem overly concerned that you will misalign the rear frame and put it together backwards when its already stamped “Front” and “Back.” This third section, attachment of the bucket with 6-13 mm carriage bolts, requires that the bolts go through the tray to the rear frame. I had some hold the bucket up, put in the center bolt and I quickly screwed it down with a socket wrench while they held the carriage bolt in place with a screwdriver: do the middle front one first to hold the rear chassis to the bucket (tray). Then do the other two. During this part of the operation, one of the nuts failed; another trip to the hardware store provided sufficient spares, though I could only get hex head bolts. I chose 5/16-in. hex heads 1-1/2-in. long to substitute because the ones provided were a little shorter than I liked. After getting the first bolt in it was possible to do the work myself, alone.
After this step, the assembly was all downhill.

The cart is a little heavy for my mother, a 78-year old but it will carry the weight. Altogether, I spent 5-hours to assemble the cart.
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The Industrial Revolutionaries: The Making of the Modern World 1776-1914
The Industrial Revolutionaries: The Making of the Modern World 1776-1914
by Gavin Weightman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.75
75 used & new from $4.02

5.0 out of 5 stars Eli Whitney was not the sole inventor of the cotton gin, June 6, 2014
Remember that PBS show from the 70’s, “Connections,” that is modus operandi for this book. Gavin Weightman writes about the real inventors, and often the real inventor(s) --- plural.
Did you know that Robert Fulton did not invent the steamboat, nor did he invent a functional torpedo for the British navy or anything else? Robert Fulton is an example of a great idea man and promoter, which many of the inventors are who you will find in the history books.
Did you know that Orville and Wilbur Wright, the inventors of the first workable air plane, were terrible businessmen? Their first airplane had a number of mechanical faults, which others like Glenn Curtiss eliminated. One such flaw was an aileron that was operated by twisting the wing the way a bird flies. Ailerons are the flaps at the back edge of an airplane. Glenn Curtiss invented the modern flap as a lever as seen in today’s aircraft. The Wright brothers sued Curtiss for patent infringement. In fact, rather than spending their time inventing better aircraft as Curtiss did, the brothers literally spent their last dime defending the patents on their old, faulty design.
Getting back to the title about the inventor of the cotton gin, I’ll start in the beginning. Nathanael Greene invited Phineas Miller from Connecticut to teach his children in South Carolina. Phineas Miller helped Eli Whitney come south to tutor as well. Whitney and Miller worked in secret with others in New Haven. Somehow, the word got out, the planters found a way to copy their design and then set about to destroy their reputations. One such story spread by planters was that “Whitney’s deseeding gin tore the cotton. Needless to say Whitney wins only a historical reference; Miller got nothing.
Difficult to follow at times for its twists and turns, this book is worth the time.
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Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 18, 2014 4:37 AM PDT


Breaking Bad: The Final Season
Breaking Bad: The Final Season
DVD ~ Bryan Cranston
Price: $21.99
92 used & new from $13.13

5.0 out of 5 stars Though dismal, this last period of the final season is excellent, January 3, 2014
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In this last DVD collection we see Heisenberg's world fall apart. All the characters meet their destinies and there is finally closure.


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