Saturday, July 14, 2007

Boing Boing: Cardboard Chinese food
Mystery Reader sends this warning about Chinese food. Does this have anything to do with being hungry again 20 minutes later? However, the food I had in Beijing was great, so if it was cardboard I wonder what the chefs can do with edible ingredients.

If you're in Beijing and eat steamed buns that taste like cardboard, they just may be cardboard. According to an undercover investigation aired on China Central Television, one particular supplier was filling his buns with 60 percent cardboard until cops shut down his operation.
Fear of a global 'coldening' | The Daily Telegraph
LAST month Australians endured our coldest June since 1950. Imagine that; all those trillions of tonnes of evil carbon we've horked up into the atmosphere over six decades of rampant industrialisation, and we're still getting the same icy weather we got during the Cold War.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Manhattan parking spot�going for $225,000 - Jul. 12, 2007
Churchill dropped from England's history syllabus - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Sir Winston, who was British prime minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955, was famous for his defiance to the Nazis, stirring oratory and trademark cigar and "V for victory" sign. In 2002, a BBC poll with more than one million votes saw him voted the Greatest Briton of all time.
N.J. senator proposes toy gun ban--Would make it illegal for anyone under 18 to purchase toy New York City and Tri-State News from WABC-TV

"The margin between a child's stupid mistake and a tragic ending is far too thin," said Sen. Nicholas Scutari.

OK, but what is the margin between a legislator's stupid idea and a nanny state?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - Homeowners Fees Turns Into Foreclosure Nightmare
Fred Pilot sends this example of what we have been told doesn't really happen: impending foreclosure over an unpaid $106 maintenance fee and $4000 in HOA attorney fees. Check out the video.
East Valley/ Scottsdale Tribune: Mesa HOA's towing prompts lawsuit
Fred Pilot sent this account of a strange public/private connection: in Mesa, AZ, where HOAs are mandatory in new construction by government policy, HOAs are towing cars from public streets and dunning the owners for payments. A state legislator tried to ban the practice but failed. / Capital markets - US mortgage problem fears spark sell-off

This may lead to higher interest rates for home loans.

Fears of further problems in the US mortgage industry and the broader economy flared on Tuesday, triggering a sell-off in credit markets as investors sought safe havens. Markets were rattled when Standard & Poor’s, the ratings agency, threatened to downgrade the credit ratings on some $12bn of bonds backed by US subprime home loans. This raised concerns of a broader repricing of risk in credit markets, leading to heavy losses for some investors, particularly in derivative markets.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Global warming strikes again: Buenos Aires sees rare snowfall

Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, has seen snow for the first time in 89 years, as a cold snap continues to grip several South American nations. Temperatures plunged to -22C (-8F) in parts of Argentina's province of Rio Negro, while snow fell on Buenos Aires for several hours on Monday. Two deaths from exposure were reported in Argentina and one in Chile. In Bolivia, heavy snowfall blocked the nation's main motorway and forced the closure of several airports. In Argentina, several provinces in the Andes have been placed under a storm alert, according to the national weather centre.

Monday, July 09, 2007

This fence makes angry neighbors | | Serving Brevard County and Florida’s Space Coast

The "Space Coast"?

Residents in Wickham Forest are fuming about a 10-foot-tall stockade fence erected recently by Melbourne businessman Larry Dennison. Paralleling a shared property line, the 48-foot-long fence comes within inches of the homeowners' association's century-old oak tree. Moreover, the barrier likely would keep northbound motorists from seeing the association's planned $20,000 entrance sign.
Top Global Warming Advocate: Jupiter & Saturn Closer To Sun Than Earth
No wonder people are skeptical. He really said this:

ALEX JONES: "The polar icecaps of Mars are receding at several miles a year, much faster than ours and that the moons of Saturn and Jupiter are melting, in fact several of their moons were ice and are now liquid seas - how are SUV's causing that David Rothschild?

ROTHSCHILD: "Because those planets are closer to the sun, my friend."
Fast-Growing Common Interest Developments Spurring
Cottage Industry for Homeowner Advocacy: Northwest Reporter

Fred Pilot sent this piece, which has a plug for Joyce Starr's self-help book, and also a few choice comments from yours truly if you keep reading:

Love 'em or loathe 'em – homeowner associations (HOAs) are a part of the everyday lives for a rising number of Americans. The growth of Common Interest Developments (CIDs) and "managed communities" is spurring the emergence of homeowner advocacy groups, watchdogs, legal specialists, books, blogs and other resources aimed at helping individual owners assert their constitutional and property rights. One such book is described by its author as "the first self-defense guide for condo and homeowner association members." Not surprisingly, Dr. Joyce Starr, the author/publisher, was inspired to share her experiences and insights after winning a two-year legal battle with her condo board involving toxic mold, whistle blowing and pets. "Defend Your Condo & Homeowners Rights! What You Must Do When the Board Turns Your Life Upside Down" is sold separately or as part of a trio of works on "homeowner defense strategies." In addition to the "Defend" title, the 3-part set includes "Creating Home Owner and Condo Association Documents: How to Protect Your HOA and Con-Dough" by David Goldenberg, Ph.D., and "Condo Board Elections Revolt," by Valmore Lucier, "the first Condominium Ombudsman in America." (For ordering information:
Condo boards, residents tangle | Home News Tribune Online
Fred Pilot found this. But I thought these things were "isolated incidents"?

In July 2002, Vastola had put up a white Pella Midview storm door, pretty much the same style she had seen around her complex — one was even in teal blue. Members of the condo association told Vastola the association's rules prohibit that style of storm door, and hers would have to be removed. They were right. Vastola's case is hardly an isolated incident. In fact it's one of a legion of conflicts on record for residents of condominiums throughout the nation — residents who often find themselves fighting grievances with condo boards that some residents believe have too much power and too little accountability. Those who live in condominiums sometimes buy their units without reading the regulations that can contain strict rules. Conflicts arise, and owners are frequently stunned to find themselves in violation of such provisions as the design of a storm door, or their ability to put political sign on the lawn in front of their dwelling.

And note the summary of where things stand on the legislative front in New Jersey:

Vastola credits the Common-Interest Homeowners Association for helping her through her fight with her condo association. The C-IHC is an independent, nonprofit organization that was founded to bring reform to residential associations. Measures designed to address problems between condo association boards and their homeowner members have stalled in the state legislature. State Sen. Ron Rice, D-Essex, said he is working on getting a homeowners' bill of rights out of his Senate Urban and Community and Affairs Committee this year. The bill (S1608), called the "Owners Rights in Common Interest Developments Act," or ORCID, seeks to bolster existing laws in the areas of condo board elections, improve ease of access to records of condo boards and establish a mechanism for alternative dispute resolution. Rice's bill is at odds with another bill (A798), called the "Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act," or UCIOA. Its acronym is pronounced "yew-KWI-ah," and it was sponsored by Assemblyman Wilfred Caraballo, D-Newark. UCIOA has already passed the Assembly, and its backers are hoping now for its passage in the Senate in the form of S805, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Doria, D-Jersey City, and Sen. Nicholas Asselta, R-Vineland.
Boing Boing: First Amendment mob of photogs hit Silver Spring on July 4
Thanks to Mystery Reader for this amazing photo of photographer civil disobedience, a followup to the news about Silver Spring, MD, privatizing public space and the first amendment going bye-bye, from Boing Boing.
Officer suspended after arresting woman in clash over dry lawn in US - International Herald Tribune
Fred Pilot sent this. Here is another municipality acting like an HOA. These requirements to water your lawn during drought conditions are a point of contention in many HOAs out west. Here is a municipal ordinance to the same effect.