Monday, January 31, 2011

Strange but true Houston real estate news

I thought burying statues of St. Joseph was a weird way to move a house, but from Swamplot comes the story of a seller in Houston who may have a tried a more unusual gimmick. (NSFW, make sure you don't have anything in your mouth when you spot it or you'll have a monitor covered in food/Diet Coke/beer/whatever.)

We're on the wrong side even in Libya

Hillary with Mo Qadhafi's son at a White House schmooze fest. Decades of incompetent management of foreign affairs, coming to fruition.

How Chicken McNuggets are made

If your kids want to know how they make Chicken McNuggets, have them watch this short industrial film.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gerald Celente fails to see the black swan

Here's Gerald Celente just a few days before the uprisings in the Arab world. Skip forward to 4:40. Paraphrasing, Celente says, "The youth of the world will create the revolution. You have seen it in England, you saw it in Italy, you will see it in Spain and Ireland, you saw it in France."

You'll notice that he made no mention of Tunisia, or Egypt, or Yemen, or Saudi Arabia. The biggest story of 2011 most likely, and Celente totally missed it. All he has to offer is some rehashed items from blog posts of news from the weeks before. But his talk of imminent "cyberwars" that can take down whole societies has sold me on the need for Obama's Internet kill switch. Celente is a great salesman!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Annise Parker gets it.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker gets it.
"Earlier this month, I furloughed city employees and I made back just under $5 million, furloughing city employees for six days over the next six months," Parker said.

"Amazingly, (that is) almost exactly the amount the fire pension could have negotiated down and saved salaries for the people who are picking up your trash."
She almost sounds like Chris Christie. It's crunch time, and we need more Christie's and Parker's. I appreciate that our firefighters and police officers were contractually promised generous pensions by Lee Brown and Bill White, but the simple fact is we cannot afford to pay these pensions. The money isn't there.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We're screwed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Houston is Bankrupt

Mish has been harping on this for a long time, saying that Houston is bankrupt. (Thanks, former mayor Bill White!)

Now, from the Houston Chronicle, we learn that Houston's not bankrupt yet, but may very well be so in the near future.
Last year, one Houston Fire Department deputy chief retired and walked away with a generous check for $211,808 — and that was just for his unused sick days, vacation and holiday pay.

An executive HFD chief with 39 years on the job also retired in 2010 and left with a payout of $186,409 for his leftover sick time, vacation and holiday pay.

"They earned the money. So anybody saying 'can we afford it?' - the only way you can afford it is to steal it from them, because they've earned it,“ (Jeff Caynon, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association local 341) said. "I mean, this is for time they have worked."
Houston is supposed to have a strong economy, but this has to stop. The money ain't there.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Keith Olbermann does Ron Burgundy

It seems that Keith Olbermann was the inspiration for Ron Burgundy.

Now that Olbermann is looking for work, perhaps he can go back to his old gig at Boston Market.

Cruising with White People

Are you ready for the Progressive Voices Cruise? For right around (or should I say "left around"?) $3000/person (plus tips and bar tabs, and you may be doing a lot of drinking!), you can hear lectures from fascinating white politicians, including Pat Schroeder and Alan Grayson, plus rub elbows with famous A-List white celebrities like Shelley Fabares. A bargain at twice the price!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords recovers in Houston

Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is now in Houston for recovery and rehab. We all wish her well. Meanwhile, local radio shows have been abuzz, asking listeners when they think congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee will sneak into Memorial for a photo opp.

Congresswoman Lee "inherited" the Barbara Jordan/Mickey Leland seat, and frankly she's an embarrassment. But I don't think she deserves the obsessive hatred embodied by certain talk show hosts such as Michael "Dingle" Berry. Yes, she's an idiot, a walking, talking malapropism, but so are many other congresscritters. At least congresswoman Lee is usually in Houston talking directly to her constituents, instead of sleazing her way through the inner circles of the DC elite.

(I think Lee will sneak into Memorial by the end of next week for a photo opp.)

Dubai is sinking

UK Telegraph:
(Dubai's offshore World development), the ambitiously-constructed archipelago of islands shaped like the countries of the globe, is sinking back into the sea, according to evidence cited before a property tribunal.
Also see Dubai may have to knock down buildings constructed during boom.

Like I've said, prices will be down 90% from peak, with many of the remaining buildings being uninhabitable. Yet Dubai will be a paradise compared to the catastrophe that will visit China over the coming years.

Update: If this is true I hope that Dubai burns to the ground, every infestor suffers a complete and total loss, and we should boycott Emirates. But something about these horror stories doesn't add up. There's no doubt in my mind that many of these people from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are abused. But widespread slavery in Dubai? Surely word would get back that Dubai/Arabian Peninsula are very, very bad places for third world workers to be.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Keep Austin Weird

pre·ten·tious: Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed
We're not pretentious. We're weird! Keep Austin Weird!
Austin is not weird.
Austin is weird and I can prove it! I have a bumper sticker on my car and a t-shirt that say Keep Austin Weird! Like other 20-something Austinites I wear the t-shirt all the time to let people know that Austin is weird and I am a groovy person! Can you dig it?
That's great, but Austin is not weird.
Yes it is! We have bats underneath a bridge! We're so weird that we named our minor-league hockey team after them! Isn't that weird?
Lots of cities have bats underneath their bridges. That isn't weird.
We're the live music capital of the world! How weird is that? Weird, I tell ya. Weird!
Cities like New York or London or LA would be the live music capitals of the world. Austin has... some really bad college bands that play cover songs.
We're the San Francisco of Texas! That makes us weird!
Austin is not the San Francisco of Texas. Austin is a hot, humid hellhole for much of the year, populated by pockets of "progressives" that work for government agencies and some transplants from California who were priced out of their homes. It's a vortex that sucks tax dollars in from the rest of the state. Austin is really the Sacramento of Texas, only with a lot more illegals.
Don't be a smartass when we all know that Austin is weird. We hate highways and failed to build them or provide alternatives for mass transit so we have really bad traffic problems. That's something that makes Austin weird!
You got me on that one. That really is pretty weird.
Slacker was filmed here! More proof that Austin is weird.
Slacker was an interesting movie about some loosely-connected paranoid schizophrenics. It was also 20 years ago. I think it's time to move on.
Austin is weird because we have interesting characters that we call "dragworms." See? I told you that Austin is weird!
The rest of us call them "panhandlers" or "bums." Slackers, if you prefer. Just about any city has them. Nothing weird about that.
Hater! Austin is weird and I can prove it beyond any reasonable doubt. We have SXSW®! Doesn't that acronym sound edgy? We even have cool celebrities who fly in to visit!
Quentin Tarantino sitting in a bar drinking a Shiner Bock for the photographers so he can look hip isn't really weird. It's actually kind of... pretentious. But not weird.
It is too weird! See my bumper sticker?
Proved it once again! Haha you looser!

And Austin is weird because we go tubing down the river and drink beer!
Actually, that's about 50 miles south in New Braunfels, near the much larger, more interesting historic city of San Antonio.
Well eff you, hater. Just for that I am going to put another Keep Austin Weird bumper sticker on my car and annoy my out-of-town friends and relatives some more by telling them how weird Austin is. Can I interest you in a Keep Austin Weird t-shirt? The Chamber of Commerce has a few thousand cases left over and they are giving them away.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

HAL 9000 vs Watson

I think we've finally reached the HAL 9000 level, about 10 years after Clarke predicted it would come to fruition. IBM will sell Watson to Lenovo and its feature set and capabilities will be part of your smartphone in 2016.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reason #321 why states are broke

Top 100 Illinois school district employees pension liability: Almost a billion dollars.

They're jacking up personal income taxes in Illinois by 66% to pay for this. I wonder if Jeff Smisek is having second thoughts about the move a few months ago?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I think it's pretty obvious that there are far too many federal workers.

Don't we have anything else better to do than employ people to harass Canadian visitors over candy?
A cross-border kerfuffle over a popular chocolate treat nearly cost a Winnipeg woman a $300 fine and saddled her with a bureaucratic headache.

Lind Bird was recently stopped at the U.S. border and selected for a random search of her vehicle. She was warned she could have faced a fine after the customs official found — and seized — her $2 Kinder Surprise egg as illegal contraband.
Here's the dangerous threat.
I can think of a lot of "threats" on the store shelves right now that aren't banned. Those big-ass candy-coated gumballs for one. Surely they pose a choking hazard. Yet they are sold openly.

I think we have a lot of people on the government dole trying to find busywork. I think we'd all be better off without so many nannies.


Reminds me a lot of Houston during Allison.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Glenn Beck killed those people in Arizona

I have a number of friends who are basically saying that. You know that many Blue Team pundits are also laying the blame for Jared Lee Loughner's act on political "hate speech." My friends are saying that people (hidden meaning: the Red Team talk show hosts) should be careful about what they say.

I cannot disagree more. Rude political discourse has always been part of America. This type of discourse is woven into the societies of all countries... except places with one-party rule. The Rush Limbaugh's and Keith Olbermann's and Glenn Beck's and Michael Moore's come with being an open society. We have a choice not to listen, and I'd prefer that choice to the alternative.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Angry Birds

They're finding dead birds everywhere! It's mass hysteria! It's HAARP! It's Islamic terrorists! Chemtrails! Alex Jones! New World Order! OMG!

This "story" is such a load. I suggest that massive bird kills occur every year and people are working themselves up into a frenzy over nothing. They see "patterns" only because they are noticing something that has always occurred.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Houston tops in manufacturing jobs... by far.

OK, so what am I missing here?
According to Manufacturers’ News, Houston takes the top spot for industrial employment with 228,226 manufacturing jobs, followed by New York with 139,127 jobs, Chicago with 108,692 and Los Angeles with 83,719.
PDF of the complete list is here.

Something's wrong with this list. I don't believe that Houston has more manufacturing jobs than cities like Chicago or LA. Houston really has more manufacturing jobs than the two largest cities in the US combined? Did all US manufacturers shut down last year except for companies in the energy business?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn had AD/HD

Glenn Reynolds linked to this article about re-writing Twain's most important novels in order to remove the N-word. The word also appears 48 times in To Kill a Mockingbird. The word is deeply offensive, but I am not so sure we should be re-writing classic literature to reflect current morals.

BTW, it occurs to me that Tom and Huck were prime candidates for Ritalin.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2011 Predictions

My 2011 guesses. I think the first and third guesses are obvious ones.
  • Republicans fail at their attempts to repeal Obamacare. However, they are able to push through some minor tweaks.
  • Barack Obama's team attempts a re-branding campaign. No public photos of Obama eating ice cream or playing golf will be seen in 2011. Arugula is out, replaced with steak and hamburgers. In 2011, Obama will project a macho image.
  • Republicans fail at their pledge to reign in the budget deficit, but the growth is slowed somewhat. Republicans will try to brag about this.
  • A major hurricane will strike the Texas Gulf coast.
  • A prominent California blogger and his former wife will be arrested for mortgage fraud.
  • Chevrolet will shock naysayers by ramping up production of the Volt due to strong demand.
  • An American will take the helm at Toyota.
  • Bill Clinton collapses during a speaking engagement after having a stroke.
  • Elton John settles in Las Vegas and becomes the house act at the Venetian.
  • Gold prices will continue to surge, peaking in April. It will end the year below $700.
  • Shocking celebrity deaths: John Goodman and Prince.
  • Oil prices will skyrocket during the first quarter of 2011, then collapse to below $40/barrel.
  • Hype about tablets comes to an end after Samsung and HP products flop. iPad sales flatten and market analysts discover that demand is limited to Apple's existing core of monied customers. The new Apple TV flops, while the new iPhone helps Apple regain top spot in the smartphone wars. Apple studies the idea of spinning off the media side of their business into a new company (iTunes, Inc.) that is less dependent upon Apple and more platform-agnostic.
  • A major US newspaper will shock the industry by announcing free home delivery.
  • The Dead Kennedys get back together to re-work California Über Alles in honor of the new governor. They fail spectacularly as everyone realizes that the Dead Kennedys still suck and have no real talent and Jello Biafra is not as clever and astute as he thinks he is.
  • Best Buy removes packaged software from its shelves.
  • Amazon Kindle price breaks the $100 barrier, making the e-reader one of the biggest tech stories of 2011. Market analysts are stunned at the success and Amazon stock adjusts accordingly.
  • Disaster strikes the new high-speed rail system in China due to construction defects.
  • Hugo Chavez continues to consolidate his power and launches a series of military strikes against border areas in Columbia in order to gin up patriotic fervor.
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hires a fashion consultant to give him a more polished, less threatening appearance.
  • War in the Korean Peninsula. Kim the Fat, in order to show everyone that he has balls of steel like his weird father, orders the shelling of a ROK village, resulting in a massive ROK response to targets within 10 km of the DMZ. North Korea opens fire on Seoul with artillery, but wholesale destruction of the city is avoided as US and ROK forces launch a stunning counter-attack and destroy over 10,000 pieces of artillery within 24 hours. North Korean officers flee back to Pyongyang, leaving behind 300,000 weary, starving soldiers, who promptly give up. A new cease-fire is called, resulting in a new DMZ that is 40 km north of the old one, giving Seoul a much better protective cushion.
  • Many new jobs and new businesses will emerge in Florida to salvage the thousands of empty houses built in 2005-2007 that have been damaged due to heat and humidity. Houses will be so cheap in Florida that the glut will be cleared faster than expected thanks to the surge of government retirees from the Northeast and Midwest looking for a low-cost place to live due to their shrinking pension checks. In fact, even the most bearish of bears will realize that 2011 marks the first year of undeniable recovery, except in places like coastal California, Washington, Oregon and the DC area.
  • Gut-wrenching economic times will visit Canada, Brazil and Australia, with housing prices down at least 20% by December. Housing will go on to crash another 40% in these countries over the following 2 years.
  • It is discovered that China is essentially run by gangsters. This year the world will finally see the full scale of China's problems with malinvestment, and it will shock even those of us who try to keep up with events there.
  • Julian Assange will be charged in the US federal courts. Not for espionage, but with fraud. Investigators will discover that Assange has been going short against the companies he threatens to expose, particularly Bank of America. He is extradited to New York, no longer the hero that he once was.
  • Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland will say goodbye to the Euro.