Saturday, July 19, 2008

CANOE -- CNEWS - Weird News: Court sinks pirate ship tree house: "VANCOUVER - Everyone but the neighbour loved an elaborate pirate ship-shaped tree house Andrew Dewberry built for his kids in his front yard."
You have to admit, that is an enticing lead.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nearly 1 in 5 poor people surveyed in Erie County reported living in a home without utilities : Latest Local News : The Buffalo News

Nearly 1 in 5 poor people surveyed in Erie County reported living in a home without utilities : Latest Local News : The Buffalo News: "Nearly one in five poor people surveyed in Erie County in January said they were living in a home without running water, electricity or heat, according to a report released today by the Homeless Alliance of Western New York."
Why do they not have utilities? Because a heck of the lot of them are squatters living in abandoned homes, according to the Homeless Alliance.

Home prices at four-year low

Home prices at four-year low: "SAN FRANCISCO -- With bargain-priced foreclosures glutting the market, the median price paid for a Bay Area home in June plunged below the half-million-dollar mark for the first time in four years, a research firm reported on Thursday.

The $485,000 median price for resale homes, new homes and condos was a breathtaking 27 percent drop from the peak $667,000 median reached just one year ago, in June and July 2007, according to DataQuick Information Systems of La Jolla. It was the lowest median since March 2004, when the benchmark stood at $469,500."

From $667,000 to $485,000 in one year. Holy price collapse, Batman.

Exurban League: Don't worry. Mr. Godwin has been notified.

Exurban League: Did this sound better in German?

"[W]e are going to grow our foreign service, open consulates that have been shuttered and double the size of the Peace Corps by 2011 to renew our diplomacy," said Obama. "We cannot to continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we have set. We have got to have a civilian national security force that is just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded." (link)
The press is ignoring this astonishing proposal to create a "civilian national security force that is just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded" AS THE UNITED STATES MILITARY. However, he did propose it. This was a popular idea in Nazi circles in the 1930s. He also proposed a federal mandate to conscript junior and senior high school students into doing 50 hours per year of national service and 100 hours per year for college students.

If McCain proposed this sort of quasi-fascist nonsense, it would be front page news and people would question his sanity. But with Obama, the press just scrubs it from the speech and it is like it never happened.

The Golden State's not-so-golden goose -

The Golden State's not-so-golden goose - "In March 2000, California state Treasurer Philip Angelides announced a bold new initiative. Angelides felt the Golden State could do good for both the citizens of the world and its retirees by taking state pension fund money out of two asset classes that were performing horribly at the time, tobacco stocks and emerging markets, and reinvesting in something with a social benefit — businesses and real estate in low-income neighborhoods in his home state."
Smooth move. And what is the price tag on that virtuous decision?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Blagojevich: Chicago May Need National Guard Help - News Story - WMAQ | Chicago

Blagojevich: Chicago May Need National Guard Help - News Story - WMAQ | Chicago: "CHICAGO -- As Governor Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday signed a new law that will put in place tougher penalties for selling guns to minors, he also announced he's got a new idea to help combat the violence that Chicago is experienc[ing]: he's talking to the Illinois State Police and the National Guard to see if they could help."
Our meathead governor pulled his face out the public trough long enough to make another moronic attempt at grandstanding. There has been an uptick in violent crime, but not close to a return to what it was in the late 1990s. And if you take a look at Chicago crime rates for the 70s and 80s, you have to conclude that things are pretty calm today by comparison. But that sort of long-term inquiry would get in the way of terrifying the public into increasing government power, and the Chicago Democratic Machine loves power. Ask Mayor Daley, or even Barack Obama, about that sometime.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fires, Foreclosures Raise Risk of West Nile Virus

Fires, Foreclosures Raise Risk of West Nile Virus: "SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Two plagues in California, fires and
foreclosures, may be increasing the risk of another: West Nile
virus. Wildfires have sullied the air in the Sacramento area so badly
that officials there have held off aerial spraying of insecticide
to combat the virus, which is spread to humans and animals by
infected mosquitoes. At the same time, backyard pools left with standing water in
abandoned, foreclosed properties have created a breeding ground for
mosquitoes, raising the risk of West Nile infection."

Just wait. Next it will be frogs, and then locusts.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Scientist's blowtorch weedkiller backfires - Telegraph: "Robert Gailey, 79, watched in horror as sparks from a gas-powered garden tool caused the lawn and shrubs of his neighbours, Stuart and Phyliss McLean, to catch light. Mr Gailey had been using a Weed Wand, a £20 hand-held flaming device which burns weeds, to treat the driveway of his semi-detached home in Paisley, Renfrewshire. Within seconds, the McLeans's manicured lawn and evergreen trees were aflame and Mr Gailey's wife, Mary, called the Fire

Making the omelette of science requires breaking a few eggs, and setting fire to a few lawns, apparently. I am content with my neighbors being IT people, plumbers, and investment counselors. You can keep your scientists, thanks just the same.
Housing, banking crisis piles pressure on Bush: "LONDON (Reuters) - The housing crisis in the United States is fast spilling into a banking and financial debacle that could destabilize the world economy and put mounting pressure on the Bush administration to act."
Yes, that's about the size of it. But do we really want the Bush administration to "act"? Act how, precisely? What problem have they acted on with speed and wisdom to date? So far their record is a series of ham-handed, authoritarian, secretive, often-expensive interventions that at best have questionable outcomes. Education reform that nobody likes; taxing and spending so as to produce unprecedented deficits; the botched occupation of Iraq; failing on Social Security reform and then greatly expanding Medicare to include prescription drugs with no idea how to pay for it; faith-based programs that amount to nothing; anti-terror policies that have been repudiated over and over by the name it. Why would anybody expect the Bush people to have a solution to this spiraling meltdown...a problem that they didn't foresee, did nothing to prevent, and haven't done much about as it progressed to what is now looming disaster? Maybe the best thing to do now is nothing, and give somebody new a chance at the problem in 2009, whoever that may be.

Analysts say more U.S. banks will fail - International Herald Tribune

Analysts say more U.S. banks will fail - International Herald Tribune: "As home prices continue to decline and loan defaults mount, U.S. regulators are bracing for dozens of American banks to fail over the next year."
It is remarkable how little attention the presidential candidates are paying to this situation. I guess it isn't as important as who wears what kind of flag pin.

Sunday, July 13, 2008 Worldwide

Secretary of Treasury wants to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Worldwide: "July 13 (Bloomberg) -- Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson sought blanket authority from Congress to buy equity stakes in and lend to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, aiming to stem the collapse of confidence in the largest sources of U.S. mortgage financing."
He also wants the Fed to have a "consultative role." Here is the definition of the verb " to screw up":

To harm irreparably through inept handling; make a mess: ball up, blunder, boggle, botch, bungle, foul up, fumble, gum up, mess up, mishandle, mismanage, muddle, muff, spoil. Informal bollix up, muck up. Slang blow1, goof up, louse up, snafu. Idioms: make a muck of.

I think that is helpful in understanding the current housing market situation.

Back in business: IndyMac reopens Monday -

Back in business: IndyMac reopens Monday after being taken over by feds- "Customers who found locked doors and armed guards Friday afternoon could use ATM cards over the weekend to get to their money, but an estimated 5 percent of the $19 billion deposited in the bank was not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Indymac's failure, which the FDIC chairman said could add up to be the most expensive U.S. bank failure ever, came as the FDIC's list of 'problem' institutions is on the rise. The FDIC disclosed last month that it was closely watching 90 financial institutions on its 'problem list,' up from 76 in the first quarter of 2008. The total assets of 'problem' institutions rose from $22.2 billion to $26.3 billion, the FDIC said."
Hey, let's have a look at that "problem" list. What? "The FDIC does not publish a list of trouble banks out of concern it could spur a bank run, which is what the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) said happened to Indymac in recent weeks."

Oh. I guess the next few months should be exciting for the banking industry.