OT: What was the most interesting/surprising thing you learned on line lately?

In a fantasy author’s (Tamora Pierce) Facebook fan group, forests managed for specific purposes came up. Specifically we were talking about coppicing as a way to produce lances for jousting and other pole arms. Someone mentioned that there’s a forest in Indiana that produces white oaks specifically for the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides. As a life-long Hoosier how did I not know that? Why the US Navy Manages Its Own Private Forest


Well, not online but I bet the author does have an online page so it almost qualifies.

Susan Elia MacNeal. I stumbled across her via her first book in a mystery series… Mr Churchill’s Secretary. Set in WWII England with all manner of tidbits revealed about behind the scene machinations that aren’t part of the usual narrative of wartime Britain.

Some made me think “My dad was right all along” having dismissed a fair bit of his insight 50 odd years ago. Hadn’t realised how close the Irish Republic…along with many in the English aristocracy (which I was sort of aware of)…came to buddying up with Germany in the years leading up to and the very early years, for example. Including a bombing campaign by the IRA to attempt a war on two fronts.

I’ve already posted an interesting review on adiposity and muscle/bone health on a different thread.

This isn’t bad, either. I did not know this…

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The Atlantic published a story on October 30 about the impact of private equity on America.

The timing of that story was interesting because around the same time, they also were running a piece written by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera summarizing their new book that addressed the same topic in the narrower realm of healthcare, hospitals, nursing homes and pandemic response.

The October 30 story started with this statistic.

The publicly traded company is disappearing. In 1996, about 8,000 firms were listed in the U.S. stock market. Since then, the national economy has grown by nearly $20 trillion. The population has increased by 70 million people. And yet, today, the number of American public companies stands at fewer than 4,000.

That wasn’t the shocking part. The piece goes on to recap the fact that back in the 1930s, the legislation that established the Securities and Exchange Commision also established a limit of 100 on the number of investors allowed for a privately held corporation. This limit was in place until it was repealed in 1996 in the now-hilariously titled National Securities Markets Improvement Act. (Why are ALL disastrous regulatory bills named for the exact opposite effect they will have?)

With no limit on the number of investors that could arrange private equity deals, the size of the firms such deals could take off public markets was only limited by the nerve of the investors involved and the cost of debt. When interest rates were artificially depressed for nearly 15 years after September 11, 2001 and the Fed’s attempts to baby the financial industry to avoid collapse, private equity firms essentially had NO natural limits. The result? The number of publicly traded companies peaked in 1997 and in 2023 there are HALF the number of public corporations trading on exchanges, despite the economy growing from $8 trillion to $23 trillion over that period.

The problem with economic entities operating privately is there are no obligiations for public disclosures regarding the financial state of those firms. As the authors put it, the prior arrangement was a trade: size for transparency. Now we have enormous size and no transparency. It’s the equivalent of operating a billion dollar ammonia plant next to a football stadium. Gee, I hope the owners check all those pipe fittings every day. We’ll just have to trust 'em. No one’s been inside in thirty years.

This is another example of WHY America prospered for nearly 70 years in large part because of the sanity imposed on markets in the wake of the Depression. It’s another example of how we walked away from all of that learning and reverted our economy to a casino at the urging of those in a position to gain the most while imposing the costs of any damages on average Americans. And we’re suprised at the results?

There are REASONS America is uniquely screwed up right now. All correctable. All having nothing to do with wedge issues.



Except that Private Equity and other enthroned wealthy issues have mastered the ugly art of finding, funding, and leveraging wedge issues as a means of providing their bought politicians with additional electoral support beyond mere dark political funding, It is mere wild good luck that abortion, one of their original wedge issues, has now blown up in their faces.

david fb


Ask George Orwell. I’m sure the act was an “improvement” for the “investor class”.



I’m a fan of The History Guy on YouTube. I’m constantly learning interesting tidbits from him.