Friday, November 30, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Has it bottomed yet? Links to foreclosures

With so many foreclosures, it might make sense for people looking for a good deal to check out the houses available directly from the banks. Here are some links:

Bank of America

PNC

Countrywide

Also LoopNet (for HSBC, and others)

Also, government homes are always interesting to look through:

HUD homes

Government sales (including USDA farms & ranches)

Update

Forgot two biggies: Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

How could someone do this?

Fatal Hoax

This story, which is not "breaking news," nor very current, is now being more widely published, and I cam upon it today. I am just stunned and saddened and mad that people can do such things, and then "be okay" with them. I'm talking about the woman, Ms. Drew, who did the hoax. As a parent, it just's just so so so sad to read about a young person killing herself. As a righteous moral indignant mofo, I am mad as heck that the "hoaxer" is not doing something, anything, everything, to make some amends (can't make it right, but can try). I just cannot fathom this one.

One result of China's one-child policy...

a nation of selfish "emperors" and "empresses."

Hugo Chavez: Make me President-for-Life or I'll take your stuff

Hugo Chavez, apparently in a tizzy that his efforts to change the constitution in his country to allow him to run as long as he wants, has threatened to seize the assets of those opposing his reform policies.

Nice. A pro-active redistribution of wealth, I suppose you'd call it. His defenders continue to point out that he was democratically elected as though that excuses his bullying while in office. George W. Bush was democratically elected as well (yes, yes, I've read all about Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 and it is a lot of nothin'). The point isn't that he has some kind of mandate to do what he's doing and so we should simply stand aside. It is that what you do when you are in office is more important that simply whether you got their legally.

HT: JWF

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Year of the Ugly NFL QB

Maybe it is me, but aren't the NFL QBs a lot uglier than they used to be?

Derek Anderson, Cleveland:



Jeff Garcia, TB (never a good looking guy, but there you go):



Lost twins Joey Harrington, Atlanta & JP Losman, Buffalo:





Even the scrubs aren't much better. Here's Charlie Whitehurst, San Diego. Looks like he's very sad. Maybe because he carries around a clipboard for hundreds of thousands of dollars a year:



PSST! Jamie! *There's something on your head!*



Duuude! Kyle Orton!



Brian St. Pierre (Pittsburgh) looks like he's about to break into song. "The hills are alive! With the sound of music!"



"You vill vall down when I throw the ball against you! Vall down!"



On the other hand, Vinny looks pretty good at 63. I'm hoping he plays two more years to collect full Social Security benefits:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Military requires return of signing bonuses by wounded vets?

A bureaucracy gone mad? A little more information here, including the fact that a Congressman has put in a bill to prevent the military from requesting a return of bonuses paid, or from withholding bonuses promised but not paid because a soldier's active duty wounds prevented their committment from being fulfilled.

Update Looks like the Army is coming to its senses. No word on what happened, but at least they are moving to fix the problem.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Too much information?

New Jersey squirrels now OK to eat. This article contained this lovely paragraph:

"A blender that was used to process the tissues into usable samples was defective and was identified as the source of the lead contamination...

Eeeeach!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Torturing the innocent

Like the death penalty, torture should be avoided, if for no other reason, than the innocent are often snared in the "rush for justice." The case of Mahar Arar is no exception. I've been following this for a long time, and if there is one thing I hope we hang around Bush's neck as his "legacy" (of many honorees) this case is the one.

Whale makes it 1000 miles upriver

Ladies, please avoid the "Won't ask for directions" line...

All that damn time...

Here's kind of a cool interactive map, with commuting time & population shifts. The Day/Night population maps are cool, though I wish there were more cities represented.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Constitution suspended---just a little bit at a time...

Want to challenge your parking ticket in Boston or DC? It'll cost you a $275 non-refundable fee.

Screw that whole "right to trial" thingy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Unintelligent design

I caught most of the NOVA program last night about the Dover, PA court case on the forced teaching of Intelligent Design in the public school. An excellent program, which goes to lengths to make sure that ID proponents have their say, although it is pretty clear that the arguments don't exactly get very far. I might have more to say on this later, but the attempts by ID backers to hide from the religious component of their theory is seriously undermined by their own actions in calling people "un-Christian" for believing in evolution.

Frankly, I've never felt that learning more about God's creation is a bad thing, even if it takes us in unexpected directions. God is bigger than anything, including the Bible.

BTW, Greg Arnig Jr. with a nice blog piece on the parallels between ID and the conservative movement in general.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tancredo: Crazy like...a crazy guy

Rep Tancredo has long been a fear mongerer, because, apparently, "someone has to say it." His latest ad is also what I'd call a "strawman" argument. A fictionalized terror attack that only he can stop, it seems.

He forgets that Americans realize, after electing Cheney twice, that this kind of thing only grows worse, not better, when you elect a fear mongerer.

Obama gaining in Iowa?

I know this is a very long speech that Obama made in Iowa, but on this Veteran's Day it is important, I think, so critically examine who might be the next Commander-in-Chief.

Obama delivers a great, great speech, IMO. I'm tired of the canned and the shrill, the divisive and the cheerleading. Like a tough education, Obama's best speeches are ambitious affairs which halt the dumbing down of political speeches in its tracks. They tell us we can do better by showing us a better speech. Take a listen--the speech is near the bottom of this Andrew Sullivan page.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

FEMA, and fake news

Apparently FEMA doesn't have enough on their hands, trying to recover from the Katrina disaster. So they put out a fake press briefing in which the audience was FEMA staffers, asking questions just like real reporters.

In their defense, the staffers were asking questions in order to "salvage" the event. [For what purpose, exactly? There was no one else there].

Keeping the US free of tourism dollars...

Great work, Homeland Security!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's always a little weird to me...

...when fictional television shows incorporate real life incidents into their shows. I suppose if it's something completely planet-altering like 9/11, that's one thing.

But this past week, Criminal Minds, one of my favorite shows on TV, ended up investigating a series of murders that took place in Montana, in militia country. Of course militia members and government agents don't mix well, so it made for an interesting dichotomy when they had to work together to stop the killer.

During the climactic scene of the show, Special Agent David Rossi - the newest character on the show, and played by Joe Mantegna - admitted to one of the militia men that he was involved in Ruby Ridge *and* Waco. Now, while Waco was one of those things that caused a seismic shift, I'm not so sure Ruby Ridge was.

To those who know about it, it was definitely a turning point in how a lot of people felt about our government. But, if you took a poll, I'm pretty sure that most people you ask, aren't going to know what Ruby Ridge is.

So, it just struck me as odd that a show would incorporate one of its central characters into an event that probably isn't a blip on the radar for most people. Definitely a cool plot device as far as I'm concerned, but still, odd.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Farm bill follies

I've long taken the annual Farm Bill to task, for, among many other things, not doing a damn thing except spend my money. Really--it doesn't actually accomplish much of anything except spend gobs of money. And attract poorly-conceived projects which, if proposed by someone in New Jersey, would surely invite FBI investigation as a money-laundering scheme.

Ridiculous UK laws

Ridiculous UK laws.

This has an "urban legend" feel to it, but there you go.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The nuts and bolts of America's reputational decline

Andrew Sullivan has been on a bit of a kick lately, about how legal visitors to this country are being put through the ringer because, essentially, they are trying to come into (or leave) the country while being, well, foreign. His latest post combines the newly legitimized border control rudeness with a sprinkling of moral superiority and a dash of tsking.

Since the Right, particularly the Christian Right, are unable to stigmatize the divorced or the "bastards" (since they are divorced and often bringing up children out-of-wedlock themselves), I guess when faced with gay foreigners it is hard to hold back.

I know, of course, that the border control workers aren't all Christianists. But in a bureaucracy, tone is set high up. And this one starts at the top.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The FBI and the use of informants

I've been hearing, over the last few years, how the FBI are not only using nastier and nastier informants, but their programactually gets in the way of both themselves and other law enforcement groups pursuing criminal investigations.

I understand the use of snitches. But it appears that the use has gotten far too widespread making us very lazy in doing the hard work of solving crimes.

"Have you fed Fred?"

I'm liking this one.

Happy Friday to you.