November, 2010 archive
Daily Kos: Origins Edition 0
Update from the Foreclosure-Based Economy 0
MarketWatch predictions: Bullish on foreclosures, bearish on home prices:
The sputtering economy is the biggest issue, he said. In addition, there is a large supply of houses on the market and further “hidden supply” due to delinquent mortgages, pending foreclosures, or vacant homes, Blitzer said.
Home prices will likely decline further going into the next year, said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist with BNP Paribas, in a note to clients.
While housing demand appears to be stabilizing at low levels, housing supply remains excessive, weighing on housing prices, Shulyatyeva said.
Summit Conference 0
TSA Security Theatre 0
Andy Borowitz has the latest:
Amid growing public outrage over the conduct of airport security in the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security today transferred all responsibility for screening passengers from the TSA to TMZ, the popular celebrity gossip website.
In announcing the change, Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano said, “We believe that TMZ can do the same job that TSA did, but they’ll be less invasive and more respectful.”
Follow the link for the details.
The Entitlement Society 1
The rich are different from you and me.
A letter to the Editor in the Boston Globe points out that
. . . the opponents of wealth and inheritance taxes usually overlook the common practice of taxing working-class wealth (home ownership) every year through property taxes — even when that wealth is owed (rather than owned) as mortgage debt.
Any tax in isolation looks unfair to someone.
Q. What about WikiLeaks 0
A. People lie. Governments are made up of people. Governments lie. Liars don’t like getting caught.
And this surprises you how?
The Christmas Rush 0
The number of spam comments to this blog caught by Askimet has quadrupled since Thanksgiviing Day.
Rita Mae Brown, from the Quotemaster (subscribe here):
I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.
“Post Racial” Posturings 1
In the St. Petersburg Times, Bill Maxwell considers the pipedream, popular during the late presidential election, that Mr. Obama’s candidacy somehow indicated that the United States had entered some kind of “post racial” era.
It was a pleasant fantasy for those who wanted to pretend to themselves that racism was somehow over; a lot of the pipedreamers were white folks, who want the white history of chattel slavery and oppression to just somehow disappear,
But anyone who pays attention to day-to-day life knows it just ain’t so. Public racism may no longer be fashionable in polite society, where it was accepted less than my lifetime ago, but racism and bigotry live with us still. Usually, they are undercurrents to public discourse, but they still sometimes come forth as over-currents.
An excerpt from Mr. Maxwell’s column:
Many whites, the “birthers” in particular, are so angry that a black man is in the White House, they continue to challenge Obama to prove he is a natural-born American citizen. Their street demonstrations have come with virulent racial epithets and crude placards.
Former President Jimmy Carter, alluding to the attacks on Obama, told students at Emory University last year that he believes race is a huge problem for the nation’s first black president: “I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African-American. It’s a racist attitude.”
Then, the tea party entered the fray with its attacks against Obama. Because some of the movement members’ language was laced with racism, the NAACP declared in a report released in October that the tea party was “permeated with concerns about race” and that some of its affiliates “have given platform to anti-Semites, racists and bigots.”
Now comes a must-read new book from the University of Chicago Press, Obama’s Race: The 2008 Election and the Dream of a Post-Racial America, by Michael Tesler and David O. Sears, showing that the 2008 election was more polarized by racial attitudes than any other presidential election. The authors argue that there were two distinct sides to this racial divide: resentful opposition to and racially liberal support for Obama. No postracialism in that equation.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t go into what evidence the book uses to support its thesis and I was unable to find a scholarly review of the book (a scholarly review would have dissected its arguments; apparently, the book is too new for detailed reviews to have hit the web).
Nevertheless, given that the 2008 election represented the first time that a black man was a credible candidate for the nomination of a major party–let alone the nominee and ultimately the victor in the election–I would not be surprised if that election was. indeed, “more polarized by racial attitudes than any other presidential election.”
The only other one I can see being in contention would be the election of 1860.
TSA Security Theatre, Denial Is Just a River in Egypt Dept. 0
At Pscyhology Today, Alison Rose Levy considers at TSA patdowns.
It’s the first item I’ve stumbled over that tries seriously to address the issues of sex and sexuality that underlie some of the unease with the procedure. In most fulminations I’ve read, those have been implied, but not stated.
Earlier this week, Congressional staffers averted their eyes, too embarrassed to watch Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff demonstrating a patdown.
Experiencing or even witnessing a patdown may be disturbing to healthy members of a community for good reason — because this behavior is defined as sexual abuse by the legal and psychological professions; the “Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine” lists as sexual abuse “fondling of breasts and genital areas.”
This incident raises questions about why TSA personnel consider the patdowns “not too bad,” while others are shocked. Does the TSA harbor a culture of denial around the invasiveness of these behaviors?
Dr. Gerry Mander Explains Banking 0
Another capsule lesson in economics from the therapist the stars trust. A nugget:
Financiers are not villains, but wealth-creators. They did not bankrupt the economy, they were cruelly led astray by weak regulation. All of our current difficulties are caused by government frittering money away on schools and hospitals. So when the City was in trouble, it was natural for the people to express their support with spontaneous gifts of tax revenue.
You must have missed the heart-warming spectacle of ordinary folk sacrificing their benefits, services and jobs so that bankers might retain their vital bonuses.
Make It a Habit To Check the Gas Gauge 0
Breaking: Willie Nelson Smokes Pot 0
But he can’t get past our warriors on drugs.
Investigators suspect a major drug cartel was the driving force behind two long, sophisticated tunnels connecting Mexico with the U.S. that were discovered this month along with more than 40 tons of marijuana.
Authorities said an underground passage located Thursday was similar to one found earlier — both running around 2,000 feet from Mexico to San Diego and equipped with lighting, ventilation, and a rail system for drugs to be carried on a small cart.
Frankly, I think this whole war on drugs thingee has been a colossal failure for decades. The drugs have won.
Serious rethinking is warranted.
Bridal Shower . . . 0
. . . of bad luck:
The news just kept getting worse for bride-to-be Melissa Conley.
Over the course of three days, a bridal shop lost her bridesmaid dresses, the restaurant hosting the rehearsal dinner closed, and her two wedding dresses were destroyed in a fire. All of it happened less than three weeks before her Dec. 4 nuptials.
Things ultimately got sorted out. Details at the link.
In a completely unrelated story but eerily coincidental story, Jude Rogers comments on the wedding industrial complex. A nugget:
Narcissism and competition are the nuts and bolts of this world, taken to terrifying extremes for the purpose of entertainment.
(snip list of over the top nouveau riche celebutard weddings)
After them, the industry boomed. Now, getting married is an orgy of capitalism, consumption and PR. How does a bride sell herself best? How is her day of joy marketed? Don’t have a hen night, have a hen week. Brand your wedding with “the romance of Ancient Rome”, rather than “I want to spend my life with this nice bloke”.
Flailin’ Palin 0
Field sums up Sarah Palin’s “support for our North Korean allies” statement quite nicely:
. . . there in lies the problem: She is a intellectual lightweight who has been elevated to a status by her followers that she cannot live up to. And,of course, she knows this, she has to be aware of her limitations. But it’s too late for her to come clean now. She is like a grifter who is too deep into the con to reveal her true self.
Twits on Twitter 0
The optimism is heartening, but methinks she overstates the power of the twit. The net spreads lies as least as effectively as it spreads truths:
The ruling (Egyptian) National Democratic party, however, seems hopelessly out of touch with the times. It doesn’t realise that the day might come when it could be tweeted out of power. Nor is it able to understand that it won’t be able to station the country’s security forces on the information superhighway as it does on Cairo’s ring-roads.
Public Displays of Ostentation 0
Having watched pieces of a couple of football games yesterday, I can applaud this:
A pleasant counter is Lawrence (Mass.–ed) High School’s football team. Coach Mike Yameen has banned celebrations on the field, even chest bumps and high fives, and hauls players off the field when they overly gesticulate. It is a throwback to yesteryear, with Lawrence quarterback Nathan Baez telling the Globe, “When you score, you just hand the ball to the referee.’’
Follow the link for some other examples of school’s getting it right.
TSA Security Theatre, a Review 0
Dick Polman attempts to take a balanced look at the hoopla over the TSA’s recent changes in its scan and search process. He recalls his time reporting from England and Ireland during The Troubles and does not find the TSA’s procedures particularly oppressive in comparison. I can’t say that I agree fully with him–much of what TSA does is truly little more than theatre (such as confiscating shampoo)–but his attempt at level-headedness is worth a read.
Buried in the column is an explanation of why right-wing leopards, who have slavishly supported every assault on civil liberties performed in the name of security by a Republican president and who shamelessly wish to police persons’ bedrooms,
are trying to shed their spots have suddenly discovered the Fourth Amendment:
Forgive my confusion, but I always thought that conservatives favored a robust government response to the terrorist threat, using all available means. Waterboarding? Check. Warrantless phone surveillance of Americans? Check. Invading the wrong country and borrowing money from China in order to fight it? Check. But requiring that flying Americans give up some privacy in a public area, for the purpose of enhanced security? No check. Better to accuse Obama’s TSA of government overreach, since that fits the ongoing oppositional narrative.
Of course, if the TSA had decided against implementing these stricter measures, and a plane was subsequently blown up by a passenger, the conservative backlash would be savage. Obama critics would swiftly declare that this wimpy administration had failed to do what was necessary to keep Americans safe.
An Armed Society Is a Polite Society 0
A .22 is substantially larger than an air gun pellet.
Police say a man who believed he was holding an air gun shot his sleeping friend dead in bed with a .22-caliber rifle.
Sadly, this seems not unrepresentative of the level of competence of many of those who glory gunnery.