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The Mind of a Cartoonist

A dive into the twisted, obsessive, goofy world of Ken Krimstein, who draws cartoons for a range of magazines, including The New Yorker. What does this art form tell us about the nature of humor, and cartooning’s lure?


The Shinola Polish

In the 1960s, Shinola, the venerable American shoe-polish company that became famous for a World War II soldier’s crack, “You don’t know shit from Shinola,” shut its doors. The move was a fitting bookend to the golden age of American manufacturing. Then, in 2011, a Texas developer revived the name as a maker of watches, leather goods, and retro bicycles in the broken heart of downtown Detroit, where, the company says, “American is Made.” Is making things in America again that easy?


Walmart’s Made-In-USA Shell Game

After being called out for deceptive advertising by a watchdog organization, and then the FTC, Walmart tries to fix the problem by creating a web of confusion. The watchdog’s legal counsel believes the company’s website still violates a variety of FTC rules. But no one seems to be doing much about it.


The Value of Time

When an American made, battery powered, quartz watch costs $1,500, and its counterparts from other countries, including Switzerland, range from $50 to more than $50,000, what’s the difference between them all? A quick dive into the eternal appeal of wrist sculptures.


Let Tinkerbell Tinker

As the economy’s reliance on innovation grows, the commercial offerings of toys for girls remains, well, somewhat less than innovative. Fortunately, a few women who are educators, engineers, and entrepreneurs are starting to figure this problem out by reviving the time-honored principles of tinkering. But how could we have gotten so off track? One writer goes searching for the answer.


The Dreams of National Kale Day

Dr. Drew Ramsey, one of the founders of “National Kale Day,” now observed annually in October, has watched the media attention to Ernie Hubbard’s findings with some amusement. To him, the whole idea of a nation eating kale in dangerous excess is absurd. Even today, after all of kale’s trendiness, “The average American eats 2…

Thallium, the Cursed Element

Back in 1978, John Emsley, a British chemistry professor and science writer, summed up the case against thallium, a heavy metal that is one of chemistry’s basic elements, for The New Scientist. “If ever an element was cursed at birth, that element was thallium,” he wrote. The mystery writer Agatha Christie also knew a thing…

The basics of distillation

Without distillation, the highest alcoholic content of any beverage would top out in about the high teens, the point at which the yeasts stop producing alcohol. To achieve higher alcohol content, such as the forty percent — or 80 proof — considered standard for liquor today, the alcohol must be separated from all the other components,…

The Bonsai Kid

At six o’clock on a July morning, during one of the hottest stretches in northwest Oregon’s recorded history, Ryan Neil trots out the door of his hilltop home and down a short gravel path in his nursery to check on more than a million dollars worth of small, delicate trees. Neil is a professional bonsai…


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