Monday, August 31, 2009

Katy Jokes

I think it's cool that there's a new meme brewing. Houston vs Dallas, LA vs SF, Boston vs NYC... now it's Houston vs Katy. I agree with Eric, this is a great hurricane haiku.
Katy, like bowels,
Always wondering "should we
Evacuate now?"
Hurricane evacuation paranoia was a one-time occurrence, something all of southeast Texas felt after the Katrina and Rita fiascos. It's looking like the 2009 hurricane season will be a dud, and as always there's no reason to haul ass if you live more than 30 miles from the coast.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Soda

Sick of the corn syrup?

Every city should have a store like Galco's.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Charles Rangel does a Casey Serin

Charles Rangel is not in trouble.
Rep. Charles Rangel claimed on mortgage papers that a Harlem brownstone was his principal residence -- even though he was living elsewhere at the time, The Post has learned.

"It's fraud or a mistake," said David Reed, an author of several popular books about mortgage lending.

"Owner-occupied dwellings -- where you hang your hat -- always get better interest rates and lower down payments than rental properties or second homes," Reed added.

"That's because if a borrower goes south, you're likely to dump your vacation home or your investment property first."

Serin did this and didn't wind up in jail and at least Rangel makes the payments. It's pointless for Rangel's political appointments to get worked up over this since it's pretty clear that lying on multiple loan documents is no longer a prosecutable crime.

More on Law Hawk:
The terms would be different, however, if the home were properly classified as a second home or rental property because it would have a higher interest rate and additional terms and conditions.

Rangel is in hot water here, and Democrats are doing their best to ignore this situation. Rangel can't simultaneously claim that he lived in the rent stabilized apartments (of which he owned four units and already admitted to improperly using one as his office in contravention of state law) as his primary residence while claiming that this brownstone was his principal residence.

He is caught in a lie.

A big lie.
So what? Mortgage fraud is no longer being prosecuted. If someone can fraudulently acquire over $2 million in properties, default on the loans, brag about it in a very public way and never be prosecuted, why should anyone get their panties in a wad over what Rangel apparently did?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Let's get drunk and teach.

Get drunk, pass out in front of 30 kids, collect $100,000/year and a lifetime pension. God bless the teachers unions. Or to be more precise, the New York teachers unions. I don't want to paint a broad brush.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

34 Percent of Workers Have One Week or Less of Savings

Yeah, I know it's a Monster.com press release to gin up page views, but even if they are off by 50% this survey is still horrifying.
If You Were Laid Off Without Severance, How Long Would your Savings Cover Your Living Expenses?

* One Week or Less: 34%
* 2-4 Weeks: 16%
* 1-2 Months: 16%
* 3-5 Months: 14 %
* 6 Months or Longer: 20%
Half of all working Americans have less than a month's worth of living expenses saved up?

I was in that boat during college. When you're 19 or 20 it's scary but not overwhelming. There are still options at that point when you are totally SOL. I can't imagine being in my 30's, 40's or 50's with only a few weeks of savings. This is the stuff of nightmares. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night.

NYT speaks out against Malthusians

The New York Times published an op-ed about the Peak Oil cranks:
Like many Malthusian beliefs, peak oil theory has been promoted by a motivated group of scientists and laymen who base their conclusions on poor analyses of data and misinterpretations of technical material.

A careful examination of the facts shows that most arguments about peak oil are based on anecdotal information, vague references and ignorance of how the oil industry goes about finding fields and extracting petroleum. And this has been demonstrated over and over again: the founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil first claimed in 1989 that the peak had already been reached, and Mr. Schlesinger argued a decade earlier that production was unlikely to ever go much higher.
I like the top paragraph.
Like many Malthusian beliefs, peak oil theory has been promoted by a motivated group of scientists and laymen who base their conclusions on poor analyses of data and misinterpretations of technical material.
If I strike and replace just two words it's also valid.
Like many Malthusian beliefs, peak oil global warming theory has been promoted by a motivated group of scientists and laymen who base their conclusions on poor analyses of data and misinterpretations of technical material.
Malthusians have given us so much. We're all gonna starve to death, we're all gonna roast to death, we're gonna live in a Mad Max world and fight to death over a tank of gas. It's disaster porn and it always fails to take into account mankind's ingenuity.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Savage rant about San Francisco

I caught a few minutes of Michael Savage ranting about why tourism is way down in San Francisco. They say the tourism industry is suffering because of the economy. Sure. But as I've said in the past, the other problem is the hyper-aggressive bums and the waste they leave behind.

Can you name a US city with more aggressive bums? Thought not. To call them "homeless" is an insult to those who find themselves out on the street but want to rejoin society. These bums follow you around, belittle you, and urinate and defecate right on the streets. Union Square reeks of urine and feces in the morning. The stench on Market Street is unbelievable.

I wrote to Gavin Newsom a few years ago and after 4 months one of his assistants wrote back, only to inform me that these people are drug addicts and alcoholics. Duh.

I don't know how San Franciscans put up with it. One of the most beautiful cities in the world, with (for my way of thinking) absolutely perfect weather, has let itself become a cesspool. With all of the taxes they pay you'd think the streets would be clean at least.

Muammar al-Gaddafi

Phil Hendrie posted this photo on his Facebook feed with the comment: He cuts a handsome jib.

I'm reminded of Angel from The Rockford Files.

Turned down by eHarmony

In an additional sign of my pathetic wretchedness, I have been declined by eHarmony. Based upon the questions, I am fairly certain it's because I am not intolerant enough for Dr. Neil Clark Warren. There were lots of questions along the lines of "How important is it that your mate be of the same religion as you?"

UPDATE: A reader has discovered the problem. (Probably NSFW.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

Great flick, but if you have any doubts stay away. It's Tarantino gruesome violence x 10.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

As seen on Instapundit!

A keyword-triggered ad currently on Instapundit.
This is the most realistic porcelain doll that has ever been created. It's quite a bargain at $160. Look at the detail!

What does big oil know that we don't?

Houston's unemployment rate just hit 8.4 percent. And we're supposed to be an island of prosperity. So while oil prices have doubled over the past 9 months,
For the third consecutive month, companies that provide support activities for oil and gas exploration and production have been eliminating positions. Over the year, that sector has cut 2,600 jobs or 6.1 percent.
Seems to me that if the oil companies were confident in $70+/barrel they wouldn't be cutting back. Hmm.

In other local news, the monied crowd near Rice University are getting their panties in a wad over the Ashby high-rise. At this point, why? The proposed white elephant will never be built. We are awash in see-through condo towers and no one will finance another condo tower in this city for at least 10 years.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bill White on college costs

Houston's mayor, Bill White, is running for US Senate. I follow his Facebook feed, and yesterday they (he?) dumped this on us:
For candidates who are: instead of talking about each other, tell Texans how we can cut school dropout rates and make college education more accessible, and how to pay for it.
I'll wager that White's plan involves pumping more tax dollars into the educational system and cranking out more student loan money. That seems to be the forever solution. But the fact is this "solution" is what has caused higher education expenses to soar. The cost to attend our colleges and universities has increased at a far higher clip than inflation, particularly over the past 20 years. By pumping more tax dollars and providing an endless stream of guaranteed student loan money, what incentives do colleges and universities have to reign in costs? Feeding more money into the system in order to make it "affordable" is like feeding money and easy credit into the housing market, and we all know what happened there once the easy money dried up. Bloated prices collapsed.

Starve the higher education beast and college will become affordable again for the masses. It's that simple. And quit saddling 23-year-old kids with $100k in debt for a lousy B.S. degree.

Chronicle spam?

Attention 801 Texas: You may want to get a handle on your affiliate program assuming you have one.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Alex Jones: FBI agent?

Hal Turner was on the FBI payroll. It makes me wonder if proven cretin Alex Jones is also a beneficiary of our tax dollars via the FBI. It would explain a lot. Since Hal Turner is paid by the Feds, concluding that Alex Jones is also a government informant is not a stretch at all.
Prosecutors have previously acknowledged that Turner was an informant for several years, paid by the government to spy on radical right-wing organizations.

The lady of the house descends.

The Washington Post closed the comments on this piece of idiocy.
Steins takes a breath. Life in this $2.5 million house was built on the premise of two incomes, not the income of a divorced mother of three in a tanked economy. Her property taxes are $35,000 a year, the nanny is $40,000 and the gardener is $500 a month.

Since the recession hit, Steins worries about how sudden financial insecurity affects her children.
Life is tough on the mean streets of Westchester County when you only make $300,000/yr. She could save $6,000 each year by making her oldest son get off his ass and mow the lawn on Saturday mornings, but that's sooo gauche. Making your kid cut the grass? Ewww! That's what Mexicans are for.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Alive in Joburg

Proto-District 9, from 2005. If you haven't seen it yet I won't spoil the movie except that it turns Apartheid on its head.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I guess panning for gold didn't work out.


For those of you with a life who don't want to wade into this nonsense anymore, here's the summary: Casey plans to buy a deserted island with other people's money.

Here's his business plan.
District 9 rocks, BTW.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

200 water balloons

200 water balloons for $23.00. Delivered.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Kooky Stuff

In no particular order:
  • Applied kinesiology.
  • Believing that dolphins enjoy being molested and that you are "connecting" with them.
  • Paying 50% more for "whole" food.
  • Crap circles.
  • An economy based upon flipping stocks of companies that have no discernible revenues but plenty of "eyeballs."
  • An economy based upon flipping houses.
  • Technical analysis. By using the word "technical" it sounds really scientific, when in reality it's no different than reading tea leaves. If technical analysis works, why isn't everyone rich? If it worked, all we would have to do is trade based upon the fantasy signals that are generated. (TxChic57 and I used to get into long arguments about this. She chalked up her success to using various trading "tools" like Bollinger bands. I pointed out the fact that anyone posting on the Housing Bubble Blog in 2005 was savvy enough to make sound investing decisions and you didn't need psuedo-scientific mumbo jumbo to recognize that we were sitting upon an enormous bubble.)
  • Astrology.
  • Anything Alex Jones rants about.
  • Keith Olbermann.
  • Rush Limbaugh.
  • Chariots of the Gods?
  • Whitley Strieber and the whole "alien abduction" nonsense that got addle-headed people so frightened in the late 1980s.
  • Hal Lindsey.
  • Schmucks who refuse to get their kids vaccinated.
  • Truthers, birthers, peak oilers.
  • Adults who still believe in "ghosts."
Please add your own.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Equities

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

French authorities require that all men wear Speedos

From the Grauniad:
(French) authorities regularly force men to ditch their Bermudas and parade in skin-tight budgie-smugglers for the greater public good.

Why the enforced parading of Frenchmen's bulges? "Hygiene," says Emmanuel Dormois, a head pool attendant in Paris's 11th arrondissement.

Michigan pol: Let's destroy the remaining jobs

The Punditguy linked to a story that is unfolding in Michigan. Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer's bright idea is to pass initiatives for:
● Mandating all employers to provide affordable health care for all their employees and dependents or pay a penalty.

● Raising the minimum wage from $7.40 per hour to $10 per hour and covering all workers with no exceptions.

● Increasing unemployment benefits by $100 a week, making all workers eligible and adding six months to the time one can receive benefits.

●Cutting utility rates by 20%.

● Imposing a one-year moratorium on home foreclosures.
Over on the Michigan Democratic Party website, Brewer is fighting back against the critics.
Greedy, Selfish Chamber CEO Calls MDP Ballot Proposals “Bull$@#*”

"Rich Studley's reaction is just what you would expect from a greedy, selfish corporate CEO who doesn't care about the suffering of millions of Michigan citizens," said Brewer. "While Rich Studley defends the excesses of his Wall Street buddies, the Michigan Democratic Party is fighting for the people on Main Street with these proposals."
I don't know how Michigan residents can stand this nonsense. When the local politicians make businesses the enemy, what should residents expect when they leave for friendlier places?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Look closely and relax.

Just stare at the image and it will all be OK.
Photobucket

Zombie Subdivisions

Mish has a post about zombie subdivisions:
You think it’s hard selling a house these days? Try unloading a subdivision. And not just any subdivision, but one with few if any completed homes and a weedy patch where the swim-and-tennis center was planned.
Houstonians who rode out the mid-1980s oil depression are very familiar with these failed subdivisions. My recollection is they started appearing in 1983 or thereabouts, and they didn't start filling in again for at least 10 years. Many of the nicer subdivisions up on FM 1960 were wastelands, and now you wouldn't know it.

We have proto-zombie subdivisions forming all over the west side now, along with dozens of new, never-occupied strip shopping centers. How quickly people forget.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Look who's getting out of prison next Sunday

Inmate locator. From what I hear she's still just as crazy as ever.

Texas High Speed Rail

Notice who's missing from the list?
(Our members include) Brazos County, Dallas County, Tarrant County, the Port of Houston Authority, the North East Texas Rural Rail District, American and Continental Airlines, and Scott & White Hospital.
So filled with meaningless buzzwords. On that one page there are two "grassroots," two "collaborative," two "innovative" and one "proactive."

Grassroots my butt. Also see running the numbers.

Obese Texas inmate hides gun in his flabs of fat

Surely this is Drudgeworthy:
HOUSTON — An obese inmate in Texas has been charged after officials learned he had a gun hidden under flabs of his own flesh.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Aggresive real estate agent

So I'm listening to a Hendrie podcast yesterday and it's a Vern Dozier bit from 2004. This time, Vern is a hyper-aggressive real estate agent who gets rude to "lookie loos" during an open house in Camarillo.

Scrolling down to the comments I see that one person didn't get it.
anthonyhitt 1 day ago

Vernon Dozier, based on this interview, gives agents a bad name. I couldn't DISAGREE more with his stance on open houses and how to work with clients. His attitude, fears, emotion and lack of integrity represent the type of stereotypical agent usually portrayed in movies. Vernon, if you read this, join me -- without charge -- for my Open House webinar to see how a professional real estate agent represent sellers and attract clients.
Hehe!

Friday, August 7, 2009

They're above us little people

As you've noticed I've had a lack of new ideas for quite some time. Maybe I should pull my favorite daily quote from a blog and post it. Here's one from CR the other day.
Silent Seeker says:

People are still running around spending. Why shouldn't they? Congress just ordered three elite jets for 'their' convenience. They will tell you that we should be happy as it will give people jobs and downplay the fact that they should be out HITCHING RIDES WITH US to get a sense of what it is like here in the real world.

Sorry for my 'religious' close, but if Christ could be a carpenter and Paul a tentmaker, then I fail to see why those in Congress can't WORK AT A REAL JOB WHILE SUPPOSEDLY SERVING.
Seems to me Republicans could gain a great deal of traction in the 2010 elections by running against stuff like this. Except they are snout-deep in the trough as well. I don't think anyone in Congress has a clue about how pissed off the citizens of this country are right now.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Somebody needs to bring honey and distilled water to Casey

Maybe one of Casey's friends should drive out from Sacramento and feed him.
I’m very much Into The Wild, just like Chris McCandless, and I am not very well prepared and didn’t know what kind of crazy adventure this was going to be. And I’m kind of trapped since my van may be slightly damaged in trying to make it out here and also because its not 4×4 it may not make it back up the steep road.

Biggest thing is that the creek dried up. That means I have to ride my mountain bike 5 miles back up hill to the little town to buy water but I didn’t save any cash for that, figuring I’l boil the creek water and try living off the land. I’m doing OK for now without food because I’m sort of fasting and doing some cleansing after months of eating whatever my heart desires. I have enough distilled water at the moment.
Just enough distilled water and honey to tide him over until next weekend when he arrives back at Mom and Dad's house.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Registered warrant

We received our first registered warrant from the State of California today. I've said in the past that the boss didn't want to do business with California, but (surprise!) like many small businesses we swallowed our pride for a payout later. If you were wondering what these registered warrants look like, here you go:


Be sure to read the letter from John Chiang attached to the IOU. Five more are on their way to us.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

China is the real Ponzi scheme

A follow-up to something I wrote in January. Over on The Big Picture, Andy Xie: China Has Become A Giant Ponzi Scheme.
Chinese asset markets have become a giant Ponzi scheme. The prices are supported by appreciation expectation. As more people and liquidity are sucked in, the resulting surging prices validate the expectation, which prompts more people to join the party. This sort of bubble ends when there isn’t enough liquidity to feed the beast.
The Chinese are still not buying goods and services from western countries. From what I've read they are are merely stockpiling raw materials. Stuff like iron ore and coal and oil. They are also piling into the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
How do you spell stock market bubble? S-H-A-N-G-H-A-I. China’s main share market is up 80% this year, and some IPOs have skyrocketed several times their offer price on the first day of trading. Sichuan Expressway soared 300%, repeat 300% on its opening day of trading on Monday July 27, and China State Construction Engineering Corporation surged 70% today, July 29, even as the Shanghai Stock Index plunged 5%. Of course that might just be due to a sell-off in most other stocks so people could climb onto the IPO bandwagon. Chinese investors routinely liquidate existing positions to pile into new issues.
China is Japan circa 1990, only very militaristic. The China bulls are delusional.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Casey Serin update

I give him two weeks before he's back in Sacramento.
Casey's next wild ride is partnering with an investor who owns a gold mine. He has invested in equipment that can extract fine gold and has put a claim on 60 acres of government land nearby to search for more. His more basic aim is to live off the land. Citing Thoreau's Walden and Sean Penn's film version of Into the Wild as inspiration, Casey is well-versed in the time-honored dream of living off the grid.
Update: He's back in Sacramento and leeching off Mom and Dad again. Right on schedule.

Sickos

I am disgusted by how so many leftards treat Sarah Palin. I am also disgusted by the actions of so many rightards who continue with their stupid Barack Obama birth certificate nonsense.

These people are so odious that I sometimes wonder if the Palin's and Obama's aren't privately egging these morons on. The "Birthers" are certainly good for Obama. They're an effective way to smear Obama critics as psychopaths. The Sarah Palin haters are certainly good for Palin's political future. Critics of Palin now appear to be bitter and frustrated old cranks who like to fabricate nonsense and attack children.

I wish they'd all just shut up and go away.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Let's lie about our oil reserves!

The UK Independent is shouting out about peak oil.
Why is there such disagreement over oil reserves?

All numbers tend to be informed estimates. Different experts make different assumptions so it is understandable that they can come to different conclusions. Some countries see the size of their oilfields as a national security issue and do not want to provide accurate information.
The places with large oil reserves are run by undemocratic thugocrats, with rare exceptions such as Canada and Norway. These thugocrats need high oil prices in order to keep the natives from getting restless. Since these thugocrats prohibit free speech and an open press, why should we accept their reporting on oil reserves? It's in their interest to claim that reserves are declining.

Meanwhile, up in Oklahoma: Cushing oil glut worrisome.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Christopher Steiner is full of crap

They love him at the New York Times.
You predict that gas will hit $6 by 2010.
I predict that it will drop below $2 by 2010.

When it comes to energy prices, I am just as qualified as a civil engineer and Forbes reporter.

Phil Hendrie: Government agent?

Over on Facebook, Phil Hendrie is telling a story right now.
I am now now at liberty to tell you all a few things. It's nothing earth-shattering but it's going to come out so I'd rather get ahead of the news......I have been, for the last 6 years, on the payroll of the United States government. The job I did for our country was in the area of domestic intelligence gathering. I was not a "spy" or "deep cover." Those jobs are done by people with a far more involved background...

I was simply tasked to watch and listen...as many civilians who apply are similarly tasked. The information I passed along was sometimes as simple as a name or an address on an envelope, the movements or activities or personal information of an individual I might have met. I never carried a weapon, was never involved in so-called espionage work and had a limited area of responsibility....

The fact is much of what is called "intelligence gathering" is that basic. There is a tremendous amount of information processed that in and of itself seems innocuous. So, much of it is gleaned by way of conversation or what is laying on someone's desk. Hence, regular people such as myself, who have other jobs and careers, are perfect for this kind of work.

I became involved in this type of work by way of an introduction..a colleague of mine in the business who had these contacts. We talked and he knew of my deep concern for our country's safety following 911. He asked me if I had interest in talking to the people I eventually went to work for. I remember at the time I wanted to do something..anything.

These people became the only people I would meet or know from this group. My contact with them was by way of telephone and there were simple code words used. It's very easy to beat bugs and taps this way when the kind of information you're passing is native and pedestrian to others. I did this for 6 years, mostly here in California but sometimes in other cities when I was traveling.

So to the point of the story: There will be a significant story breaking Monday concerning a figure in the broadcast industry who ran afoul of American anti-terror laws. This person is someone I helped set up and who has subsequently been arrested. My name will be connected to the story. The reason is simple. Keeping my name out of the story is far more trouble than it is worth.

I did not do "sensitive" work, no lives were at stake in any direct sense and identifying me does not compromise other people or so-called operations. Lastly, I don't care who knows what I did since I am frankly very proud of it and my connection to the government was of a short duration. That's it. Believe it or don't but I wanted to at least get my side of the story out there while I had a chance.

Oh by the way...I want to apologize to Rantz and Ralph..my brothers and crew. I know I've been a raging asshole the last few weeks. I'm sorry I couldn't keep the pressure out of the job. You guys are the best! Best crew I've ever had!!
Sounds like another bit, only done via Facebook. We'll find out soon enough.

Update: As I figured. It was another bit.

Charles Whitman

43 years later, people still remember. And Kinky, I think it's time to give up on being governor.