Thursday, April 30, 2009

MD email re Swine Flu

San Antonio Lightning Newspaper - GITTERLE
I don't know what to think about this swine flu. Is it serious or not?

Here is an email from a doctor that says it will be bad. But if you read the press accounts you see that people report they had flu, but not that severe. Nobody knows how many cases there were in Mexico to go with that 150+ mortality. People with mild flu don't seek help (except now that everybody is freaking out), and there may have been tens of thousands of mild cases for all we know, so the mortality rate could have been low. Flu kills 35,000 people in the US every year anyway.

So is this just a new type of not-terribly-deadly flu that lots of us will get and recover from? Or is this some horrible plague? I am inclined to think it is the former, but not being an MD or an epidemiologist, that is just a layman's sense of things.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

And it's called "It Ain't Worth a Piece of Cow Pie"

Irving Park condo owner singing an angry tune :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Business: "An Irving Park condo owner and her neighbors are living in a building with buckling floors, unfinished hallways and four foreclosed garden units. The developer is bankrupt and its phone disconnected. But rather than cry about it, she’s inspired to write about it.
Kaara Kallen wrote what she calls “Depression style” lyrics to be sung to the tune of “American Pie” by Don McLean."

That's a creative way to deal with catastrophe.

Swine flu in Chicago?

Probable swine flu closes Rogers Park school - Chicago Breaking News: "The decision to close the school was made Tuesday after the state reported the probable case to CPS and the system noticed an unusually high absentee rate at the school (see map), Huberman said.

Attendance at the school is normally 94 to 96 percent, but it was 87 percent on Tuesday, Huberman said. That was 'clearly enough of a differential' to warrant the closing. He said the school would be closed 'indefinitely,' but at least for two days.

The Kilmer student population of 850 is 60 percent Hispanic. It has a teaching staff of 46. The school is also in a heavily Hispanic populated area of the Rogers Park neighborhood. The swine flu has taken its heaviest toll in Mexico."

This flu was going around in Mexico during March and April, when US schools were on spring break. A whole lot of people went from the US to Mexico for vacations, and when they came back they went back to school. I would assume that schools are a major transmission point for this virus.

‘No-Mezuzah’ Policy Is Shown The Door

‘No-Mezuzah’ Policy Is Shown The Door: "The developer of a Dix Hills, L.I., condominium complex who Monday ordered residents to remove all outdoor religious displays — including wreaths and mezuzahs — backed down the next day and said he would allow the residents to decide their own rules.
“I want a committee of homeowners to make some recommendations and then I will have a meeting of all the homeowners so they can discuss it and come up with a reasonable accommodation for everybody,” said Lawrence Gresser, the developer.
Gresser said that despite Monday’s letter threatening to fine all violators $50 if they did not remove outdoor displays within three days, no fines would be levied."

Yes, of course this will require some sort of rule. You couldn't just let people observe their religion as they do all over the nation, with no adverse consequences for anybody.

Advice for bankers

What to Do When a Condo Project Goes South - 04.28.2009 - American Banker Article

Night of the Iguanas

Palm Beach County symposium focuses on iguana issues : State News : TCPalm: "The iguana population now numbers in the hundreds of thousands in the southern portion of Florida, Kern said. The balmy weather here keeps the reptiles, who are native to South and Central America, from going any farther than the Interstate 4 corridor in Orlando.

For two hours, Kern talked about the potpourri of iguanas found in the sunshine state. Most abundant is the commonly seen green iguana, 'a cute lizard' that lives 15 to 22 years, grows up to 6 feet long and defecates about a pound of feces a day.

And coming to a neighborhood near you is the Nile Monitor, a relative of the Komodo dragon. Indigenous to Africa, the 7 1/2-foot-long, 22-pound reptile strongly resembles a prehistoric species and preys on baby crocodiles for food.

Kern drew a gasp or two from the crowd when he flashed a photo of one spotted in Southwest Ranches."

Recession, foreclosures, taxes, killer flu...and now a plague of iguanas hits Florida. They poop a pound at a time and it is filled with salmonella. They eat decorative plants. And they are coming to your HOA. And if you hit them more than once, it's animal cruelty.

The Nile Monitor (seen at right in Gambia) is known for stealing eggs from crocodiles. Good luck hanging onto your fox terrier.

Phoenix falls into ashes...prices down by half

Phoenix leads nation in home price declines in February - Phoenix Business Journal:: "Phoenix home prices fell 35 percent from February 2008 to February 2009, according to the new S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index. That’s the largest decline of any of the 20 largest cities in the U.S. In addition, Phoenix home prices are down 51 percent from their peak."

Keys to your condo may not have to be turned over to your assoc... - Topix

Keys to your condo may not have to be turned over to your assoc... - Topix
Beth send this along. The question was posed: do you have to give your condo association a key to your unit? There are lots of replies from various people. Beth highlights Sweet Lou's comment, which is #7. It seems that somebody was really a pet lover.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rat beef with Harvard gnaws on neighbors -

Rat beef with Harvard gnaws on neighbors - "Rats “big enough to put saddles on” are running amok in Allston and Brighton, leaping from trash bins, chewing their way into homes and terrifying residents who blame Harvard’s own “Big Dig” for unleashing the vermin."
Not only that, but Harvard graduates 600 lawyers every year.

Ba da boom!

What people in Mexico are saying

BBC NEWS | Have Your Say | Swine flu: Your experiences: "I'm a specialist doctor in respiratory diseases and intensive care at the Mexican National Institute of Health. There is a severe emergency over the swine flu here. More and more patients are being admitted to the intensive care unit. Despite the heroic efforts of all staff (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc) patients continue to inevitably die. The truth is that anti-viral treatments and vaccines are not expected to have any effect, even at high doses. It is a great fear among the staff. The infection risk is very high among the doctors and health staff.

There is a sense of chaos in the other hospitals and we do not know what to do. Staff are starting to leave and many are opting to retire or apply for holidays. The truth is that mortality is even higher than what is being reported by the authorities, at least in the hospital where I work it. It is killing three to four patients daily, and it has been going on for more than three weeks. It is a shame and there is great fear here. Increasingly younger patients aged 20 to 30 years are dying before our helpless eyes and there is great sadness among health professionals here.
Antonio Chavez, Mexico City"

I found this link on Instapundit. It is a BBC site where people post their comments. Dr. Chavez tells a disturbing story and his isn't the only one. Of course there is no way to verify these accounts, but I am inclined to think that the Mexican government is understating the extent of the public health emergency they are facing. And I'm wondering if our own government is doing the same. Every day planes arrive from Mexico City at O'Hare Airport in Chicago (and many other US airports) and unload a few hundred people who left ground zero for this infection a few hours earlier. It seems that whatever the Mexican people are now dealing with, we here in the US will soon be experiencing.

Shake your booty, says HOA

NBC2 News - Homeowners 'irate' over booted vehiclesThe security company, Whitestone Group, at Cypress Landings, said her truck was given a boot because it was not parked on a hard surface. But the tire was really only an inch off the driveway. And Krueger owns that inch. Now, it will cost Krueger $200 to remove the boot. "I went and got the association manager, brought him down here to look at it. He said he didn't think it was excessive, and that they boot at least one vehicle a night because they need to make up for the deficiency in funds from all the people that haven't paid their dues," Krueger said.
If HOAs try to make up for their lost assessment revenues by concocting bogus fining offenses, they will regret it in the long run.

Specter first!

Specter says he's switching from GOP to Democrats: "'I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate,' he said in the statement.

'I don't have to say anything to them. They said it to me,' Specter said, when asked in a Capitol corridor about abandoning the GOP."

Specter likely would have lost the Republican primary. In order to win it, he would have had to win over some conservatives. If he said the right things to accomplish that, he would have a harder time in the general election with independents. Times are tough for Republicans these days, anyway. So magically, at age 79, he has discovered that he finds the principles of the Democratic Party more congenial than those of the GOP. The fact that this gives the Democrats a 60 vote filibuster proof majority doesn't slow him down. Specter first. That's the rule.

When I see these elderly legislators clinging to power with every fiber of their being, I always wonder why it is so hard for them to just gracefully retire and let somebody else do the job. The same is true of the US Supreme Court. Why can't Justice Stevens bring himself to step down? He is 89 years old, making Specter look like a kid by comparison. I realize that there are some jobs people can do at almost any age, but...Senator? Supreme Court Justice? When you reach the age where some people are driving their cars at 60 mph through the local farmer's market, isn't it time to let somebody else wield one of the 100 votes in the US Senate?

White House Apologizes for Air Force Flyover - City Room Blog -

White House Apologizes for Air Force Flyover - City Room Blog -
Flying an airliner low over NYC for photos? Without notifying the Mayor? What an astounding lack of common sense. This Louis Caldera individual needs to find a job with less responsibility. Perhaps there is a forest ranger station in northwestern Montana that needs staffing.

Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline - Photo Essays - TIME

Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline - Photo Essays - TIME

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sir Foreclosure of the Round Table Strikes!

'King Arthur' evicted from Stonehenge - Telegraph: "A pagan protester named King Arthur has been evicted from Stonehenge after staging a 10 month live-in protest about access rights to the ancient stone circle."
He fights for the right to touch the stones. As a druid, he must think he has that right. Why not let him? But no spray paint allowed.

H1N1 Swine Flu - Google Maps

H1N1 Swine Flu - Google Maps
I think this link will enable us to keep track of all the suspected and confirmed cases in the world. I note that there are none in Illinois so far, but two in Indiana.

But they do such a great job...just ask them!

New FAS-FAX Shows (More) Steep Circulation Losses: "The Audit Bureau of Circulations released this morning the spring figures for the six months ending March 31, 2009, showing that country’s largest metros continue to shed daily and Sunday circulation, now at a record rate."
There are several reasons for this, such as the internet and the economy, but one factor is the widespread perception that the major newspapers slant their news coverage while pretending to be objective.

It's all Bush's fault!

As flu hits, holes in W.H. health team - Carrie Budoff Brown - "The Obama administration declared a “public health emergency” Sunday to confront the swine flu — but is heading into its first medical outbreak without a secretary of Health and Human Services or appointees in any of the department’s 19 key posts.

President Barack Obama has not yet chosen a surgeon general or the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His choice to run the Food and Drug Administration awaits confirmation."

But other than that, the Obama administration is, like, totally ready to deal with this crisis.

Follow YOUR money, is more like it...

Follow the money: Bailout tracker -
This neat tool allows you to see in painstaking detail just how the US is being spent into oblivion.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

HOA bans kids from playing in common areas | HOA: No Kids Playing in Common Areas 042609: "The newsletter read in part, 'Little Suwanee Pointe is a wonderful and growing community. Our goal is to maintain the curb appeal of our common areas throughout the community as well as ensure every resident their quiet enjoyment. With that said, parents, we ask that you instruct your children not to use the common areas for outdoor sporting games.

'While these games are quite innocent, the extreme wear and tear is taking its toll on the grass in these areas. As a result, the HOA must invest additional dollars to repair the damage. There are two parks located within two miles of our community that are perfectly suited for such activities.'

The resident said that last summer the homeowner's association informed residents that they were violating association policy by allowing dogs to urinate on their own lawns."

As the old saying goes, the inmates are running the asylum. What is a "community" for, if not to raise children? What more proof is needed to show that HOAs bring out the worst in people?

Why so many rumors?

Communities work to dispel false rumors -- South Florida "Gated communities are a hotbed of rumors. And dealing with them comes with the territory for homeowner and condo association board members and presidents."
Maybe if the leadership of these communities placed a higher value on openness there wouldn't be so many rumors.

Bush : Katrina = Obama : Swine Flu?

U.S. Slow to Learn of Mexico Flu - "U.S. public health officials did not know about a growing outbreak of swine flu in Mexico until nearly a week after that country started invoking protective measures, and didn't learn that the deaths were caused by a rare strain of the influenza until after Canadian officials did."
It's all Bush's fault.

Yeah, but it's only a flesh wound.

Longtime pal, ex-aide Monk to testify against Blago: feds :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State: "The former law school roommate, longtime friend and onetime chief of staff to Rod Blagojevich is now taking a new role against the former governor: federal witness.

While Lon Monk showed up in federal court Thursday to plead not guilty to a wire fraud charge, a federal prosecutor said a plea deal is due in short order."

Blagojevich has become the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He prances around quoting Kipling, Teddy Roosevelt, and Churchill, while one formerly close association after another turns federal witness. There are now probably half a dozen people lined up to testify for the government who were right next to him in his sleazy, crooked administration. Lon Monk is one of his oldest friends.

It is just a question of time. Unlike the Ryan prosecution, which was hard to prove, I think this case will be an avalanche.

Editorial: California Legislature needs to kill bad city bankruptcy bill - Inside Bay Area

Editorial: California Legislature needs to kill bad city bankruptcy bill - Inside Bay Area: "Unfortunately, federal rules give states the authority to block municipal bankruptcies. To date, California lawmakers have wisely resisted that temptation, recognizing that bankruptcy is a rarely used vehicle employed only in the most dire of circumstances.

But now some labor unions, rather than engage in meaningful negotiations with Vallejo, are seeking to rewrite California rules so that a state body of political appointees, the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission, could block municipal bankruptcies."

As the editorial say, this is "a horrible idea that will only undermine local governments' ability to seriously review unaffordable contracts with public employee unions." Like the UAW and the AFL/CIO, public employee unions seem determined to suck the last drops of blood from their hosts. Unions are making most of their current political leverage with ruling Democrats in California and Washington DC to advance a short term strategy. Card check, prestructured bankruptcy that preserves the union's perks, and this bone-headed bill in California are all intended to shift the rules so unions can't lose.