Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Final Solution

This past week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quoted while visiting Iran as saying, "It's time we finally finish the final solution."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Have A Dream

I had a dream the other night. True it wasn't as profound a dream as Martin Luther King's which was a rather mundane thought, incidentally. My dream was that I woke up in 1988.

This got me thinking about everything that has happened in 20 years. When my grandfather died in 1994 it made me marvel at all that had changed in his lifetime. This dream I had made me look back at all that has changed just since I graduated from high school.

The internet. It was still a sparkle in Al Gore's eye back in 1990. Trying to explain the internet and all of its uses to someone in 1988 is a lot more difficult than trying to explain powered flight to someone in 1900. Nevermind trying to explain how it works. I have way more chance of explaining Bernoulli's principle than I do how my email works.

Medicine. Think about the things we take for granted. Things that were fatal just a few years ago are now rather pedestrian. My mother has diabetes. I've been able to watch the progression of medical advances. It's only amazing when you stop to think about it.

Communications. Everyone bitches about people on the phone all the time. Except it's all of us. Try explaining to someone 20 years ago that EVERYONE has a carphone (which is what we called them then). I don't know anyone without a cellphone. You can argue whether or not this is a good thing, but if you are going to argue it isn't, then throw yours in the trash and see how long it takes until you buy a new one. Tweet, text and talk away. Don't be ashamed of it.

Travel. It used to be that taking a flight was a big deal. It used to be that it was rather expensive. Kind of something the rich did or the middle class did when they saved up and planned for it. Taking a flight today isn't much more than taking the bus... and just as enjoyable.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thank God I'm A Country Boy

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Ok, I'm back

Larry Craig.

What did he do illegal? He sounds like a creep. I know what he intended to do. I don't think he did something illegal, though.

I think the cop maybe overplayed his hand knowing that whomever he accused of that was likely to plea rather than make him show proof.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Monday, May 14, 2007

CAFE Standards

I was in a little town in Wisconsin this weekend. I'd forgotten the utter joy of sitting at a counter in a cafe having a cup of coffee and a smoke. Why are people not allowed this simple pleasure here in MN?

I was reminded of Midnight Run.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Victims Here

Anyone from MN will recognize the sign. I've been thinking about this a bit today because of the recent events. Places of business put them up apparently to advertise that no one there can defend themself.

I learned today from a woman who runs a very nice charity near my home that the law actually requires her to have this sign up.

I understand in bars, but WHY would you advertise that you are defenseless anywhere else? Someone.... actually a bunch of people actually think signs like this make you safer.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

How Crazy Do You Have To Be To Write This?

You're implying that xxxx has watched me have sex and exchange money for the act? You're a sicko, you pervert. You're a fuckin' crazy-ass pervert if you are thinking about scenarios like this. Who would even come up with that except for a deranged individual like yourself? I didn't realize that you were a fuckin' sick pervert who devises weird sex scenarios like this INVOLVING YOUR SON in addition to all your other misgivings.

I'd suggest going NOW to United Hospital to be checked by the social workers. Or if you don't want to go to my hospital, go to Regions, but it's out of network, of course. Sign in under a fake name...I don't care. I'm really worried about you and giving my son to you this weekend if you're envisioning your son inserted into a sex scenario. Don't tell me you went. Don't tell anyone. Just go. This is a serious problem.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Watch this video, then read this AP piece today. Utterly shameful.

For example, the report says North America "has already experienced substantial ecosystem, social and cultural disruption from recent climate extremes," such as hurricanes and wildfires.

But the present is nothing compared to the future.

Global warming soon will "affect everyone's life ... it's the poor sectors that will be most affected," Romero Lankao said.

And co-author Terry Root of Stanford University said: "We truly are standing at the edge of mass extinction" of species.

The report included these likely results of global warming:

_Hundreds of millions of Africans and tens of millions of Latin Americans who now have water will be short of it in less than 20 years. By 2050, more than 1 billion people in Asia could face water shortages. By 2080, water shortages could threaten 1.1 billion to 3.2 billion people, depending on the level of greenhouse gases that cars and industry spew into the air.

_Death rates for the world's poor from global warming-related illnesses, such as malnutrition and diarrhea, will rise by 2030. Malaria and dengue fever, as well as illnesses from eating contaminated shellfish, are likely to grow.

_Europe's small glaciers will disappear with many of the continent's large glaciers shrinking dramatically by 2050. And half of Europe's plant species could be vulnerable, endangered or extinct by 2100.

_By 2080, between 200 million and 600 million people could be hungry because of global warming's effects.

_About 100 million people each year could be flooded by 2080 by rising seas.

_Smog in U.S. cities will worsen and "ozone-related deaths from climate (will) increase by approximately 4.5 percent for the mid-2050s, compared with 1990s levels," turning a small health risk into a substantial one.

_Polar bears in the wild and other animals will be pushed to extinction.

_At first, more food will be grown. For example, soybean and rice yields in Latin America will increase starting in a couple of years. Areas outside the tropics, especially the northern latitudes, will see longer growing seasons and healthier forests.

Looking at different impacts on ecosystems, industry and regions, the report sees the most positive benefits in forestry and some improved agriculture and transportation in polar regions. The biggest damage is likely to come in ocean and coastal ecosystems, water resources and coastal settlements.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The media and the crisis of subprime loans

Dave at Garfield Ridge has a good piece on how the media is treating the contracting credit market and stagnant real estate prices. I started typing this in his comments, but it was getting kind of long, so I just decided to post it here.

I've seen a few of these media reports myself and have found them to be pretty uninformed and typically demagogic.

Here's MPR's example of a victim of mortgage companies.
Ripplinger now owes $187,000 on the house he paid $25,000 for in the 1970's. Ripplinger says the same broker handled his last two refinances which were done within months of each other last year.
I've been a loan officer for almost seven years, now. I've done scores of sub prime loans for purchases, often to 100% LTV (no money down). The major reason for this is that if someone comes to me and asks for a loan to buy a house, I look for the best option available to them. It's not my job to talk them out of buying a house because taking a loan on an ARM (most sub prime loans are ARMs). My job is to usually find them the lowest payment available. By law I have to disclose the rates, the date that it goes adjustable, and the margin the rate will be at when it goes adjustable.

I have no way of knowing what the index will be at on that future date. One thing I am guilty of, I guess, is telling people that when the loan goes adjustable in 2, 3, or 5 years that we'll refinance them into a better loan if they've improved their credit.

This is where the problems have come in. With stagnant property values, their LTV hasn't improved much if at all in the intervening years, and often if they were in a sub prime loan in the first place it's unlikely that their credit improved in the meantime. Someone who had sub prime credit before, is more than likely going to have similar sub prime credit.

I echo Dave's contempt of the idea of having the government "fix" this problem. This IS the market. If lenders make credit too easily available to less than perfect credit borrowers and price the interest rates too low on those loans, they are going to get a lot of people defaulting and won't have made enough to make up the difference. The result of this is that lenders have to price their loans higher or tighten up their lending guidelines if they hope to stay in business. This means fewer people can buy houses. The irony is that the people complaining about this the loudest are the same people who a few years ago were complaining that it was too hard for the underprivileged to get loans to buy houses.

*** Updated ***

I love when I'm validated by people much smarter than myself. From Econlog:

My guess is that the typical defaulter today is not some prudent individual who happened to buy a home that strains his paycheck. Instead, my guess is that the typical defaulter is somebody who is poor at managing spending and credit. Of course, either defaulter is going to appear to be "over his head."
Also at Outside the Beltway:

So, here are my questions:

  • Who are the people taking out subprime loans?
  • What kinds of houses are they buying with them?

Starland Vocal Band: Afternoon Delight

One of my first memories is from when I was four years old and my parents took me to see John Denver in concert. Starland Vocal Band was the opening act.

It's funny, whenever I hear this song, that's what I think of.

Thanks to the Kool-Aid Report.