Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Onion | Republicans Call For Privatization Of Next Election
It's about time, don't you think?
WASHINGTON, DC—Citing the "extreme inefficiency" of this month's U.S. presidential election, key Republicans called for future elections to be conducted by the private sector... "Voters need an incentive to get to the polls," said potential contractor Fred Mitchelson of Accenture, formerly Arthur Andersen. "It's not like the old days when people were motivated by a sense of civic pride—that's just too Waltons. We're in negotiations to partner with. Best Buy. Under our plan, every voter would receive a coupon for 20 percent off any purchase up to $500—it would actually pay to go to the polls! It'd be great exposure for Best Buy and a fantastic opportunity for us to hit and exceed that magic six-zero. Oh, and this whole registration thing has gotta go." Mitchelson said prior elections failed to take advantage of the "vast potential for corporate tie-ins and advertising revenue." "There is a lot of untapped revenue in elections," Mitchelson said. "We could get sponsorship for every blank surface in the polling place easily—I mean everything, from the back of the ballot to the curtain itself. If we really want to break out of the box, we don't even have to stop at surfaces. We could pipe music by Sony recording artists into the voting booths."

Remember--this is satire. See how quickly reality catches up to it. Here is McKenzie's First Law of Politics: American politics is rapidly reaching the point where it will be impossible to satirize because every absurd thing will have happened or at least been proposed.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Condominium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This one is worth reading. Check out the "international meaning" of condominium: two sovereign powers. Now, just for a thought experiment let's apply that logic to the domestic context, who are the two sovereign powers? The condo association and the municipality, or the condo association and the owner?
Condominium Living-- Tips for buyers and owners
Now the condovirus has infected Ontario.
The Condominum Owners' Guide to Mold | CMHC
When did it become necessary for homeowners to read up on things like this? Can't we just watch TV and help our kids learn their multiplication tables? Books: Condominium: "Here is a panoramic look at the shocking facts of life in a Sun Belt community -- the real estate swindles and political payoffs, the maintenance charges that run up and the health benefits that run cut...the crackups and marital breakdowns...the disaster that awaits those who play in the path of the hurricane..."

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

ScrappleFace: Senators Take Out $800 Billion Homeland Equity Loan
(2004-11-17) -- The U.S. Senate today voted to increase the federal debt ceiling to $8.18 trillion by applying for an $800 billion Homeland Equity Loan through

Under the terms of the loan, which the President of the Senate Pro Tempore applied for online in only minutes, the United States government can borrow up to 80 percent of the value of the nation with no credit checks.

"At first we thought about cutting spending on bloated federal bureaucracies which strip people of their dignity by trying to solve their problems for them," said one unnamed senator, "but that's hard. So we decided to borrow more money instead."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004 - New Florida Law Aids Members of Homeowner Associations
The Church of the Pink Flamingo?
The pink flamingo is the universal symbol of suburban bad taste, and also the underground symbol of the anti-HOA movement (don't tell anybody). Now it has become the center of a religious cult. Well, not exactly:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A holiday display at Cranston City Hall that included a menorah, a Nativity scene and plastic pink flamingos in Santa hats didn't violate the separation of church and state, but the mayor's restrictions on what went into it did hinder free speech, a judge ruled.

Last winter, Mayor Stephen Laffey encouraged residents to put seasonal displays he deemed appropriate on City Hall's front lawn. A menorah went up, followed by an inflatable snowman and Santa Claus, and a Nativity scene. They were followed by a flock of plastic flamingos sponsored by a resident who said they represented the "Church of the Pink Flamingo," a tongue-in-cheek protest against the holiday display.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of a resident, arguing that the city was violating the First Amendment separation of church and state, and that Laffey's oversight amounted to a restriction on free speech.

U.S. District Judge William Smith rejected the religious argument on Monday.
Constitutional Local Governments: a new weblog
Arizona HOA activist George Starapoli has a weblog. Thanks to Fred Pilot for the pointer.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Rat rescuers a growing trend
I'm not sure, but I think this sort of thing might run afoul of some covenants or other. Plague, anybody? I'd say the Ratapalooza crowd will have to avoid HOAs and stick to apartments.

Associated Press
Nov. 15, 2004 12:00 AM

ELYRIA, Ohio - Jennifer Mitchell's apartment is full of rats, and that's exactly how she wants it.

Mitchell runs a rat rescue mission, caring for dozens of rats from people who get overwhelmed when their pet rodents have multiple babies.

Mitchell, of the Ohio town of Elyria, represents a growing trend of rat enthusiasts across the nation, including some who gathered last week in Seattle for Ratapalooza 3. The event is billed as an educational expo for domestic-rat fanciers and breeders.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

New York Daily News - Home - Dead end for rebates
Property tax rebates for dead people--I guess NYC doesn't need the money.
The city is sending some $400 property tax rebates to people who can't use them: dead homeowners.
In a snafu of killer proportions, city officials conceded yesterday that a small percentage of the 581,000 rebate checks recently mailed out were mistakenly addressed to the dearly departed.

That became clear recently to Giro Nazzaro, 70, of Morris Park in the Bronx, who received a $400 check on Oct. 26 - addressed to Katherine Boggia, the woman he bought his Sacket Ave. house from 23 years ago. Records show Boggia died in 1985 at the age of 78.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Junk food ads banned to fight fat epidemic
In the US we seem to be moving toward market arrangements in lieu of government control. But in the UK, the opposite trend seems stronger. How about this example of government nannyism?

Study: Public-school teachers' kids go private
Teachers in urban public schools send their own children to private schools at nearly double the national rate of private-school attendance, according to a new study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, D.C. Nationwide, 12.2 percent of all families in urban, rural and suburban settings send their children to private schools. But 21.5 percent of urban public-school teachers send their children to private schools.
The current gentrification of cities is largely restricted to childless couples, both young and old, and upper-income parents who are confident that they can find either an acceptable public school - including charter schools - or an affordable private school for their own children. Few middle-class parents will tolerate bad schools, the study concludes: "To escape them, they will pay out-of-pocket or vote with their feet. That is what discerning teachers do and the rest of the public, we believe, is simply modeling their behavior."

Sure--this is undoubtedly true, and it makes sense. People want the best education for their kids that they can afford. Public school teachers are no different. But what the article doesn't point out is the fact that unionized public school teachers overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic Party, claiming that Republicans want to privatize public education and demanding that all levels of government shower more taxpayer money on failed public schools--schools that these teachers won't use for their own kids. So, public school teachers vote for their own economic self-interest but use their taxpayer-funded salaries to send their kids to private schools. Democrats at the polls, Republican as parents.