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Profile for Felix Sonderkammer > Reviews


Felix Sonderkammer's Profile

Customer Reviews: 57
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Reviews Written by
Felix Sonderkammer RSS Feed (Somerville, MA)

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No Title Available

1.0 out of 5 stars Fell apart after six months of use, December 9, 2008
These pedals fell apart after six months of commuter use (20-30 miles a week). The screws came out of one side of the right pedal one day, and, before I knew it, I had bent the black, outer part of the pedal with my foot. Not recommended.

Mohammed, Charlemagne, and the Origins of Europe: Archaeology and the Pirenne Thesis
Mohammed, Charlemagne, and the Origins of Europe: Archaeology and the Pirenne Thesis
by Richard Hodges
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.01
64 used & new from $0.01

28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An archaeological refutation of Pirenne's thesis, October 22, 2008
This book discusses the archaeological evidence for Pirenne's thesis. Henri Pirenne (1862-1935) was a Belgian historian whose career was devoted to promoting the thesis since named after him. His claim (in Mohammed and Charlemagne, 1939) was that the classical world survived the Germanic invasions of the fourth and fifth centuries, that the Islamic conquests destroyed the classical world by putting an end to Mediterranean trade upon which the classical world relied, and that the Carolingian Renaissance was due entirely to domestic resources. This thesis has been disputed ever since but mainly on the terms of literary evidence. This book uses data from archaeology to show that none of these claims is true. While the particular claims detailed above are falsified by the data, Pirenne was nevertheless right to claim that "without Mohammed, Charlemagne would indeed have been inconceivable" (p. 19).

The book details how pottery from Asia Minor was to be found all over the Mediterranean and even in Britain throughout the Roman era. Starting in the fourth century, however, a dramatic drop off is seen. By the time of the Islamic conquests, there is almost none of it to be found in Carthage or Byzantine Italy. But the Germanic conquests did not destroy the classical world at once. Long distance trade in these commodities continued on a diminished scale into the seventh century. The Arabs merely snuffed out what had already been dwindling to nothing. In fact, it becomes evident that without this tremendous decline in wealth and security in the formerly Roman dominions, the Arab conquests would have been impossible.

The Carolingian Renaissance was made possible by Abbasid silver obtained via trade routes through Scandinavia and the Volga River with the Vikings as intermediaries. This is inferred from the absence of much silver mining in the Carolingian empire at the time and the influx of new silver coins in the Carolinian Empire during the eighth century, a time when Viking coin hordes contained many Abbasid silver coins and the Abbasid empire itself was at its peak. The Abbasids became rich through Indian Ocean trade with India and China. The Carolinians presumably melted down the foreign coins and re-minted them because they didn't want Muslim coins circulating in their Christian empire. The authors attempt to show that when the Abbasid empire collapsed, this North Sea trade also collapsed, and the Carolingian Renaissance ended because there was no more hard currency to finance it with.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 30, 2012 7:05 PM PDT

No Title Available

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Works fine, but too big, June 24, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I used this for about a year. It worked fine. My only complaint is that it was too big. I usually put two sandwiches and some fruit like an apple or a bunch of grapes in there. That filled up only about half of the space. I once fit a six pack in there.

The problem with it being too big is that it is (1) bulky for commuting with an everyday lunch and (2) cooling is inefficient when half of the space is empty. On the few occasions in which I used it to bring a lot of food for a picnic, it was nice to have all of that space.

Cateye TL-LD600BR (5)R LED Bicycle Tail and Safety Light (Red)
Cateye TL-LD600BR (5)R LED Bicycle Tail and Safety Light (Red)
Offered by ActivInstinct
Price: $38.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Works well until it doesn't, June 24, 2008
I have used this light for over a year. It has worked very well for me for about eight months or so, but in the last four I have noticed a problem. When I get home and take the light off, sometimes I see that it is not shining anymore. If I tap or jiggle the light, then it comes back on again. I have tried taking the batteries out and putting them back in again, but the problem persists.

Anyway, when it works it is sufficiently wide and bright to serve its function well.

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Bright, reliable, economical, June 24, 2008
I bought this light over a year ago and have used it at least once a week during that time. I have not changed the batteries yet, and the beam is still bright enough to hurt my eyes if I look into it. I have not had any problems with the clip. The thing clips on and off my bike with no problems at all. The clip release is a little tricky sometimes, but it's such a simple and bright light that I don't mind.

I recommend this light.

No Title Available

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars They fell off three times today., May 12, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These panniers fall off easily if they are not weighed down with at least five pounds of stuff. The hooks (they are not clips) that connect them to the top of the rack are small and at least one comes off nearly every time I ride. Sometimes when that happens, the pannier wears against my spokes. After less than a year of use, small holes are appearing due to that wear. The bungee cords that hook onto the lower part of the rack are not sufficiently taut to keep the bags in place, so I looped them around one of the plastic loops that it travels through before hooking them onto the lower part of the rack.

All told, you're better off buying a nicer and more expensive pair of panniers that have a decent and reliable way of hooking the panniers onto the bike. These are worth even less than what you pay for them. I will probably buy some new panniers after using these for less than one year.

Planet Bike Men's A.R.S. Anatomic Relief Bicycle Saddle
Planet Bike Men's A.R.S. Anatomic Relief Bicycle Saddle
Price: $26.69 - $40.59

48 of 64 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It hurts!, May 9, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this saddle for "anatomical relief." But the saddle actually caused more problems. The "neck" of the saddle is wider than that of a normal saddle, and it is higher. So even though there is a hole in the middle of the neck, you feel the neck more as you ride in comparison to a normal saddle. Instead of just cutting off circulation like a normal saddle, it actually causes aching pain that lasts long after I've stopped riding.

Also, the logos you see on the side of the saddle are decals or stickers that begin wearing and peeling off during the first week of use. Very cheap-looking.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 25, 2013 12:57 AM PDT

No Title Available

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light, comfortable, indestructible, January 21, 2008
I am still wearing my pair after about a year and a half. They are comfortable, light, and still do not show much wear. They are everything I would expect from a "business comfort" shoe and more. They are a bargain, in my eyes, at any price below $200.

ECCO Men's Seawalker Tie Oxford
ECCO Men's Seawalker Tie Oxford
Price: $101.97 - $170.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wear like iron, January 21, 2008
I wore my pair of these shoes every other day for about for four years. They seemed indestructible, but finally, the sole began to wear out. They were very comfortable. I may even buy another pair.

Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Slavery
Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Slavery
by Robert William Fogel
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.90
78 used & new from $5.26

59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating; sweeps away insidious prejudice, August 15, 2007
Fogel and Engerman's work turns to primary sources to figure out exactly what the economics of slavery in the American South were like. It turns out that the predominant views are wrong: slavery wasn't unprofitable, slaves were well-nourished and lived almost as long as free laborers, slave families were rarely split up, resistance to slave-owners was rare, and on and on. Farms worked by slaves were 1/3 more efficient that farms worked by free laborers, and slaves received on average more of that higher income than free laborers did. A small proportion of slaves worked as skilled workers in management, engineering, or various crafts. Some of these earned higher incomes than their free counterparts.

Since this is only a book on the economics of slavery (as the book's subtitle says), it cannot examine the psychological or ethical damage that slavery caused, as the authors acknowledge. They do acknowledge that while slaves received a higher proportion of the pecuniary income they produced as wages, food, clothing, housing, and medical care than free laborers did, they also acknowledge that the non-pecuniary costs of slavery to the slaves themselves was enormous. The higher productivity of slave-worked farms was made possible, obviously enough, by forcing the slaves to do what free laborers could not be paid to do: work longer hours in a more regulated, larger farm. Interestingly enough, the gain in productivity this resulted in, while conveyed in small part to the slaves themselves in the form of higher income, did not accrue entirely or even in the most part to the planters. Rather, about half of it accrued to the consumers of cotton. Since most of cotton was exported (primarily to Britain, where most of the cotton was made into clothing), the primary beneficiaries of American slavery were people who bought cotton goods. This is because producing and selling cotton was a competitive industry, where real profits tend toward zero. Thus, while the planters exploited the slaves in reality by whipping them and forcing them to work in ways free laborers would not, the resultant pecuniary exploitation of slaves was accomplished by capitalism.

But perhaps the most interesting thing the book discusses is how the myth of unproductive slaves has contributed to contemporary racism. According to the contemporary racist view, blacks are lazy, morally degenerate, and immature. Fogel and Engerman show that, under slavery, blacks were none of these things. In fact, the evidence shows that they were harder working and more sexually circumspect on average than their free white counterparts.

What the authors point out as a reason there were not more slave revolts is that, given the fact that both Northerners and Southerners were racists, free blacks had little economic, social, or political opportunity. Free blacks in the North were not permitted to do all kinds of things. It would seem that many blacks rationally decided they were better off as slaves. The slave artisans and engineers, however, who commanded the highest wages, were the ones best able to make a living in the economy of the free North and were therefore those most likely to escape.

The book's last chapter deals with the implications of the findings for contemporary race relations. The book shows, of course, that blacks are not biologically inferior to whites. And, in economic terms, blacks were worse off in 1890 than they were in 1860. This isn't because slavery is always economically better than being free, but because the U.S. abolished slavery without abolishing racism. Blacks remained second-class citizens without the power to better their lot economically or politically. At least under slavery their racist owners had an economic interest in their economic well-being. That is the one thing the book drives home in a thoroughly researched and completely convincing way.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 27, 2014 12:19 PM PDT

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