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The State of Real Estate, by Jonathan R. Surridge
Topic: Home and Garden 3:37 pm EDT, Jun 13, 2008

This is a great presentation on the housing bubble and the current economic disaster. The bottom line is:

I strongly recommend you not buy a house right now. Instead, rent a place, put your feet up, open a bag of chips, and watch the housing market crash. We’re not going to bounce at the bottom, we’ll stay there a while, so it’s not something you’ll miss.

From the archive:

The dot-com crash of the early 2000s should have been followed by decades of soul-searching; instead, even before the old bubble had fully deflated, a new mania began to take hold on the foundation of our long-standing American faith that the wide expansion of home ownership can produce social harmony and national economic well-being. Spurred by the actions of the Federal Reserve, financed by exotic credit derivatives and debt securitiztion, an already massive real estate sales-and-marketing program expanded to include the desperate issuance of mortgages to the poor and feckless, compounding their troubles and ours.

That the Internet and housing hyperinflations transpired within a period of ten years, each creating trillions of dollars in fake wealth, is, I believe, only the beginning. There will and must be many more such booms, for without them the economy of the United States can no longer function. The bubble cycle has replaced the business cycle.

And also:

The Last Laugh: Subprime Mortgages

Real Estate Roller Coaster

The State of Real Estate, by Jonathan R. Surridge

RE: Beer sizes shinking -
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:00 pm EDT, Jun 13, 2008

Decius wrote:

Two of the world's biggest glassware makers, Libbey and Cardinal International, say orders of smaller beer glasses have risen over the past year. Restaurateurs "want more of a perceived value," says Mike Schuster, Libbey's marketing manager for glassware in the U.S. Glasses with a thicker bottom or a thicker shaft help create the perception. "You can increase the thickness of the bottom part but still retain the overall profile," he says.

Clearest proof yet we're in an economic contraction. The U.S. needs a pint law! Ah, the benefits of monarchy...

Check for places that mark capacity on their glasses. Typically you can find places that do half liters, which is ~1.06 pints (thus a hair below 17 ounces). Some places have glasses marked at 16 ounces and some at 20 ounces. Glasses with beer and brewery logos on them are almost always 16 or 17 ounces. If you get a pitcher, check the bottom for a number, such as 60 or 64 (as in ounces).

13 & 14 ounce glasses, along with 50 or 52 ounce pitchers are a plague.

Let commercialism speak for shrinking glasses. If you find a place serving these sizes without telling you prior, let the management know you are upset and claim you will never patronize their establishment until they fix the problem. If you are bold, get up and leave before drinking claiming the product served was not what you ordered.

RE: Beer sizes shinking -

Even beer prices are rising -
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:36 pm EDT, Jun  3, 2008

There is a range of reasons behind the rise in food prices.

Demand for food is up, driven heavily by the expansion of incomes in Asia, mainly India and China.

Supply has not fallen, but millions of acres that could have produced more grain have been shifted to corn for ethanol. ...

Over the past two years, the list price for Red Brick six packs has gone from $6.49 to $8.99, [the president of ABC] said. "That still does not cover all of our added food costs. It means that our profit margin is not as big as it was."

Barley is up 82 percent since last year, aluminum for kegs is up more than 20 percent and bottles cost 18 percent more, said David Guender, director of sales at SweetWater Brewing Co., another Atlanta brewery.

Overall costs are up 17 percent to 20 percent just in the past eight months, [guy from Sweetwater] said. SweetWater's prices are up about 7 percent in that period.


* 2002: $2.72 per bushel
* 2007: $4.10 per bushel
* 2008, projected price: $4.58 per bushel


* 2002: $1.91 per pound
* 2007: $2.81 per pound
* 2008, preliminary price: $6.36 per pound

Unmentioned in this article is that the corn/ethanol craze has mainly affected barley production. Hop vineyards have just about remained the same, the factor contributing to the price fluctuation this last year is just the main warehouse that supplies almost all the hops in the US burned to the ground a few months ago and prices skyrocketed overnight. Rare/odd hops are almost impossible to find now. The hop supplies should be back in a comfortable state in a few years, but the squeeze on barley is only going to get worse as people chose corn to make ethanol and as food prices for basic cereals go up throughout the world.

Even beer prices are rising -

'Sleeping' driver ploughs into bike race - World -
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:21 pm EDT, Jun  3, 2008

MONTERREY, Mexico: This dramatic photograph shows a car ploughing into cyclists in a race along a highway near the US-Mexico border.

One rider was killed and 10 others injured in the incident. The 28-year-old driver was apparently drunk and fell asleep when he crashed into the cyclists, said a police investigator, Jose Alfredo Rodriguez.

That picture is amazing. And drunk driving in the middle of the day?

'Sleeping' driver ploughs into bike race - World -

Is It Better to Buy or Rent? -
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:34 pm EDT, May 30, 2008

Interactive infographic on money spent after x number of years for buying and renting.

Basically, having now bought a house, I move for at least 6-10 years, depending on house appreciation (or depreciation).


Is It Better to Buy or Rent? -

High-speed rail solution for chronic sky troubles
Topic: Business 12:05 pm EDT, May 30, 2008

Since the Wright brothers, Americans have viewed the airplane as the future and trains as the past. These days, it looks more like the other way around. If we were meant to fly, we weren't meant to suffer this much for it. If we mean to get somewhere, we'll develop a high-speed rail system.

High-speed rail solution for chronic sky troubles

Mozilla Labs: Introducing Weave
Topic: High Tech Developments 12:00 pm EDT, May 30, 2008

As the Web continues to evolve and more of our lives move online, we believe that Web browsers like Firefox can and should do more to broker rich experiences while increasing user control over their data and personal information.

One important area for exploration is the blending of the desktop and the Web through deeper integration of the browser with online services.

We’re now launching a new project within Mozilla Labs to formally explore this integration. This project will be known as Weave and it will focus on finding ways to enhance the Firefox user experience, increase user control over personal information, and provide new opportunities for developers to build innovative online experiences.

Just like Mozilla enables massive innovation by making Firefox open on many levels, we will aim to do the same with Weave by developing an open extensible framework for services integration.

Mozilla Labs: Introducing Weave

USA National Gas Temperature Map
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:41 pm EDT, May 19, 2008

Now you can see what gas prices are around the country at a glance. Areas are color coded according to their price for the average price for regular unleaded gasoline.

USA National Gas Temperature Map

SASC Criticizes Secrecy of National Cyber Security Initiative
Topic: Military Technology 5:05 pm EDT, May 18, 2008

The committee applauds the administration for developing a serious, major initiative to begin to close the vulnerabilities in the government's information networks and the nation's critical infrastructure. The committee believes that the administration's actions provide a foundation on which the next president can build.

However, the committee has multiple, significant issues with the administration's specific proposals and with the overall approach to gaining congressional support for the initiative.

A chief concern is that virtually everything about the initiative is highly classified, and most of the information that is not classified is categorized as `For Official Use Only.' These restrictions preclude public education, awareness, and debate about the policy and legal issues, real or imagined, that the initiative poses in the areas of privacy and civil liberties. Without such debate and awareness in such important and sensitive areas, it is likely that the initiative will make slow or modest progress. The committee strongly urges the administration to reconsider the necessity and wisdom of the blanket, indiscriminate classification levels established for the initiative.

The administration itself is starting a serious effort as part of the initiative to develop an information warfare deterrence strategy and declaratory doctrine, much as the superpowers did during the Cold War for nuclear conflict. It is difficult to conceive how the United States could promulgate a meaningful deterrence doctrine if every aspect of our capabilities and operational concepts is classified. In the era of superpower nuclear competition, while neither side disclosed weapons designs, everyone understood the effects of nuclear weapons, how they would be delivered, and the circumstances under which they would be used. Indeed, deterrence was not possible without letting friends and adversaries alike know what capabilities we possessed and the price that adversaries would pay in a real conflict. Some analogous level of disclosure is necessary in the cyber domain.

The committee also shares the view of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that major elements of the cyber initiative request should be scaled back because policy and legal reviews are not complete, and because the technology is not mature. Indeed, the administration is asking for substantial funds under the cyber initiative for fielding capabilities based on ongoing programs that remain in the prototype, or concept development, phase of the acquisition process. These elements of the cyber initiative, in other words, could not gain approval within the executive branch if held to standards enforced on normal acquisition programs. The committee's view is that disciplined acquisition processes and practices must be applied to the government-wide cyber initiative as much as to the ongoing development programs upon which the initiative is based.

The committee also... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

SASC Criticizes Secrecy of National Cyber Security Initiative

Does Hello Kitty now have diplomatic immunity?
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:49 pm EDT, May 18, 2008

Wow, this is just too strange. I don't know where to start on the jokes. Things like Sanrio going on a mascott killing ramage comes to mind.


Does Hello Kitty now have diplomatic immunity?

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