Sunday, December 30, 2007

Global warming to kill red staters?

Ok, this has been blogged about enough, but I had to chime in. This guy Dave Lindorff should look at a map. Then, if he knows how to find Wiki, he should look at a map of the Earth as it was 10,000 years ago. Ice miles deep all over what is now Canada, Northern Europe, and all the way down to Paris and Chicago.

Look dude, the ice is already melted. It is for all practical purposes gone. That little bit left on Greenland is not ALL going to melt, not any time soon. And no one is suggesting that the ice in Antarctica is melting. So most of the ice that could possibly melt either will not, or it already has.

Ever heard of the Ice Age? We are in the end stages of an interglacial. That means that someday the ice is coming back. Right now is a little warm spot during the long winter. Lets enjoy it while we can.

Since this is an interglacial period, the seas are rising, and have been since basically 9000 B.C. The warm weather is melting the ice, and has been for over 10,000 years.

All that awful global warming, and man has only been adding to it these last 100 years or so.

By the way, it is the cold times that are dry. Warm periods are generally wet. Got your facts screwed up.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Proper Upbringing for Young Ladies

Gave my older daughter, 10, a nerf-type football for Christmas. I didn't know if she would like it but she does like ball throwing games. The squeal of excitment was a nice present for me. It has taken a couple of days of practice but now both girls can throw a spiral across the room.

Girls who can't throw are always somewhat despised by teen boys, so that is one hurdle towards respect they won't have any trouble with.

Both girls now have fishing poles too. Last summer I took a small gang of girls fishing and they were putting on their own worms by the end, and caught some bluegills too.

Girls who fish and can throw a football. Answers to young mens' dreams.

Next up of course is shooting. Elder daughter has fired guns a few times, most recently my M1911 with one round in the chamber and none in the mag. I reloaded after every shot. She did Ok and no complaints about recoil. Time for a youth .22 rifle? To ask the question is to answer.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Property Taxes as Oppression


Found on RightWingNews is linked above an article on fixed-income elderly folk who can't pay their property tax and are in danger of losing their homes.

If you pay attention to the news you can find stories like this periodically, some old lady who either can't afford her property taxes, or simply forgets to pay them and is threatened with eviction after decades of living in her family home. Sometimes the home has been in the family for generations.

Now, usually, as in this case, the local governnment tries to work out some way to prevent the worst from happening. Even government people can summon up some human feeling, but this sort of begs the question.

What is the government spending so much money on that simply paying taxes becomes a life-changing evil event? If this were an uncommon event we could write it off as one of those things to be dealt with on a case by case, but as someone who works in real estate I see this kind of thing all the time.

The tax on property is no different from a tax on food or medicine. It is a tax on life itself. Everyone has to live somewhere, there is no escaping it short of death, just as everyone has to eat. It can not be mitigated or avoided.

I suppose we can just shuffle the elderly off to low-rent districts and let them eat cat food. Very kind. Very liberal of us.

Take a close look at every government program. Do we really need it? More than old people need to live in their houses?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Seen and Unseen (I didn't mean to)

'I didn't mean to!'

I hear that a lot from my kids. Whenever something happens, one kid is crying and the other is saying 'I didn't mean to, it was an accident.'

It really doesn't matter what you 'meant' to do, what matters is what you did do. So my daughter may not have meant to hit her sister in the eye with the snow shovel, but she did.

The result is the same whether you meant to do it or not.

Similarly, most politicians don't mean to cause the social problems they do, unemployment, poverty, single motherhood and such things. But they do.

The crisis of the hour is sub prime lending. Oh my, poor people who can't afford loans got them and now can't pay them back.

Why did those stupid bankers lend money to people without the habits and values that would make them good credit risks? Why lend to known poor credit risks?

Politics. Banks go in and out of favor as the industry to blame for social problems. For many years now banks have been threatened with lawsuits if fewer than the approved numbers of people in various groups receive loans.

So banks ignore the rules that used to pertain and hand out loans willy-nilly. Money was very cheap and plentiful, and not making the loans meant not only losing money but maybe getting sued for discrimination.

I have yet to hear a pol say that the sub-prime mortgage problem was caused by the government. Always pointing fingers at someone else. But as I tell my kids, when you point a finger there are three fingers pointing back.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Just finished Heinlein's 'Job, a Comedy of Justice'. Sad, very sad. Heinlein was my favorite author many long years ago. In his later years though his talent turned to trash. Stilted dialog, crap plot.

Almost as bad as 'The Number of the Beast', and 'The Cat Who Walked Through Walls'.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Population Bomb

According to this article the US fertility rate has just hit a new post-1971 high of 2.1, meaning that we are all having just barely enough babies to sustain the population.

Among industrialized countries the US is nearly unique in having at least a stable population, all of the others are on the verge of losing population, or at best stable. France being the only exception, also being at about 2.1.

The problem is age. My personal life is an example. I always wanted kids, a bunch of them. But I didn't get married until 34, and my new wife was 32. We had two kids in the next couple of years. Birth is hard on women past 30. We decided to stop at 2, meaning that the odds are we will be below replacement by the next generation.,1,3414915.story

And here is a shallow and ignorant article from the Chicago Trib bemoaning teen pregnancy. Teen pregnancy is in the eyes of liberals everywhere a terrible and life shattering event, I suppose because being pregnant requires responsibility and limits your 'choices'.

Having your kids in your teen years can be a hardship, especially if you follow the modern path by living away from your extended family, spend every dime you make on consumer junk, run up huge credit card bills and don't bother to get married. Teen pregnancy and the liberal lifestyle do not go together. I suppose that is why liberals hate it.

But from a more thoughtful standpoint, the late teen years should be the very best time to have kids. A young woman's body is in its prime of fitness at 18 or 19. She will never be as healthy or have that energy again. She can have as many kids as she wants and still be free while she is young enough to enjoy middle age. She can be the fun and energetic grandma in her 40s and 50s instead of the bedridden crone that late-bearers so often are.

You 'sacrifice' your freedom while young, to regain it during your middle years.

The 'problem' is not teen pregnancy, but our modern society's reaction to it. Teens with babies need family support. They need to have been taught adult values, patience, responsibility, a future-oriented outlook, in their early years, so that they are mentally prepared for the strain of rearing a child. Instead we treat teens as children themselves, and expect nothing but friviolity from them.

My new job

I started work this week at the distribution center of a major national retailer. 10 hours a night, 7:00 to 5:30 with an hour off for breaks and 'Lunch' at 1:00.

It is pretty amazing the multi-football-sized building we work in. I load trucks that will be sent all across the mid-west. The work is fast-paced and physical. Lots of big boxes and heavy stuff. I figure I handled maybe $50,000 worth of goods tonight, a slow night. I have no idea if that guess is correct.

Out of all the material goods I loaded, only one very small box provoked desire. I saw a box marked 'Remington' coming down the conveyor. I checked and sure enough it was a pack of 10 boxes of 50 rounds of .22 ammo. Somewhere in that structure is a pallet full of ammo!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ron Paul for President, No Thanks

A link to Prof Bainebridge on the failings of Ron Paul.

I voted for Paul when he ran as a Libertarian, but I won't be voting for him now.

Paul is simply wrong on the history of the war with Islam. Nothing the US did or did not do is a cause for this war. Islam is and always has been at war with everyone else. The religion demands it.

I had read about half the Koran before 9/11. I had quit because it reads like something put together by an unimaginative teenager. Some of it is unintentionally hilarious. The prophet being scolded by his wife for screwing a slave girl after he had promised her he would not. He goes into a long explanation about how god gave him special dispensation because he is after all, the prophet.

Then, he screws a brother's wife. Again, god changed the rules for him, but not for anyone else. How old was that guy? A teenage boy with too much stiff in his dick, rather than a prophet of god.

After 9/11 I finished the Koran. And read a lot of the history of Islam.

We have no choice but to fight this war. Islam requires all to submit to their perverted way. Submit or die.

Or we fight. Those are the choices Islam offers us, and Ron Paul just does not seem to get it. He is stuck in the 20th century and its political battles. Just like the Left, he does not understand that we all have to stand together. Republicans, Democrats, Left, Right, Libertarian, Christian, Atheist, all liberal westerners have a blood stake in this war.

So I will not be voting for Ron Paul this time around, much as I like the man. He is like those who argued that we could just accommodate communism in the last century, regardless of how many millions communists murdered.

Barbarians have to be defeated.

Global Food Stocks and Hunger

A report from the UN on how high prices are hurting the poor, and how global food stocks are lower than at any time since the 1980s.

Quite alarmist. We all know, if we shop for food, that prices are up quite a bit this year. The government has been diverting large amounts of corn to the bio-fuels market. This drives up the price of corn, which encourages farmers to plant more corn. So, they plant less wheat and soybeans and everything else, so the stocks of these fall and prices rise.

The UN can't discuss any current trouble without bringing in global warming, of course. Global warming will kill us all, from one thing or another. Either the sea will rise in fury and drown us, or on little cats feet and flood us out. Then, insects will swarm, stifling us and eating all our crops. Plagues will abound, killing our cattle and ourselves. The rivers will turn to blood and frogs will cover the land.

Wait, forget the frogs part. Amphibians are going extinct, so something else will swarm. I am sure they will be figuring out what and telling us soon.

One thing we can be sure the UN will forget is the power of capitalism to respond to price incentives. Farmers have been paid all across the developed world to set aside productive land. Why? Because farmers have gotten too good at growing stuff, so we had so much food that piles of it were rotting in the silos. No one to buy it.

Back in the 1950s, when overproduction became a problem, the government via the land grant universities taught farmers to dispose of excess grain by feeding it to cows. Prior to that cows were not fed much grain. Too expensive. But with the government paying farmers to grow more and more grain, and also paying farmers to grow less grain at the same time, something else had to be done.

So we started dumping grain on poor countries, destroying their native agriculture, feeding grain to cows, and in general constantly searching for ways to get rid of all that damned corn.

As recently as two years ago the fad around here was to burn grain in special furnaces for home heating. Corn was cheaper than natural gas!

So now, after just two years of rising prices the UN in panic is telling us we are all doomed. Somehow I just can't buy into it. Consider the source, after all. The UN! The wannabe global government. Can you give me a recent UN accomplishment? Rapes by UN officials in New York or other third world locales not included.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Catching up

Spent today like a lot of days recently, calling and e-mailing everyone I have been in contact with related to real estate this whole last year. It is a Saturday, the best day to catch people at home, and I talked with several people who sound like they might pursue a real estate purchase in the coming year. I am happy to say that no one cut me off or was rude, so I guess my phone manner is OK.

I hate harassing people with repeated phone calls, I know I don't like being on the receiving end, so I try to keep my calls restricted only to people who invite me to call back.

I have some hundreds more people to contact, most of those by e-mail. It is a slow process because to the extent possible I don't mechanize the process with mass mailings. That smells too much like spam to me, and I hate spammers. I try to individualize each e-mail with what I know about the person, and that takes time.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Al Gore in Bali

So now Al Gore wants us all to be little greenies and fight the evil monster CO2. Well, fine.

But I sure want to know where Big Al was during those 8 years. You remember those years, don't you? Bill Clinton in the White house, and what was the name of the Vice President? Quick check of Wiki....

Oh my, it was Al Gore! But but.... He could have lead the charge, back when the Kyoto bill was before the Senate. They voted it down 95 to 0, but he could have at least TRIED! In fact the Kyoto Treaty was never formally voted on by the Senate, because the Clinton Administration NEVER SENT IT TO THE SENATE FOR RATIFICATION!


Remember children, George Bush had nothing to do with Kyoto being rejected by the Senate. He was just another State Governor at the time that Kyoto came up for a vote. Bill Clinton was President. Al Gore was Vice President.

I do not remember a single great speech made by Clinton or Gore on the subject of Kyoto at that time. Do you? If so please point me to it, I want to know what Al Gore was saying about Kyoto then, and compare it to what he is saying now. He certainly was not DOING much.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Politics and Military

Click on the title to read a very thoughtful analysis of modern democracy and its relationship to the military.

I would like to comment on a problem I see developing in the US.

Bill Clinton attacked quite a number of countries during his terms. I count Yugoslavia, Somalia, Sudan, Haiti, Afghanistan and Iraq. Six, if I am not missing any.

The military did its duty in all these conflicts, all fairly small scale except Iraq and Yugoslavia. Iraq was ongoing during the entire 8 years, with daily overflights and numerous bombings of Iraqi targets. Yugoslavia was a major operation with most of the attacks being by air. We still maintain large forces there. Haiti was next, with an invasion and overturning of the then government, while Somalia was a short-term fiasco and Sudan and Afghanistan limited to long range attacks with a few cruise missiles.

All these occurred during a large-scale downsizing of the military. But our military obeyed orders and fought as well as they were permitted by their political leaders.

Our military today is very diverse, but becoming less so. There are still liberals, Democrats, non-Christians in the US military. But let's face facts. The liberals and Democrats are becoming more and more open about their distaste, distrust and even hatred for military people.

I am not talking here about just the fringe elements, the Kos Kids and Democratic Underground types, the ten percent of any large group that is off-the-charts nuts on one topic or another.

But when major figures in the party, Senators and Congressmen like Murtha, are willing to slander the military and are not called down, but rather egged on by their peers, then I worry.

The military is tending towards conservatism, Christianity, and patriotism, all three objects of distrust and scorn for modern Democrats. Is the day coming when the military will become less and less willing to fight for a president whose party hates them?

No political system is set in stone. Evolution is a constant in human affairs. I can easily envision a time when the military and the Republican party become in effect a single entity with civilian and military wings, with the Democrats and the civil service in opposition.

Now, I am a Christian, a patriot, a conservative and tend to vote Republican. I am also a traditionalist. The idea of the US military taking in interest in civilian political affairs is frightening.

The Democrats are playing with fire here. I can only hope that some new faces will appear in the party, men and women who will reject the anti-military posturing and return Democrats to a healthy relationship with our armed forces.

But I am not betting on it.

Radon, Mold and Energy

A bit more on radon. There are two conflicting goods here. Radon is controlled in homes by adding ventilation.

But modern homes are designed to be tight in order to save energy. These two goods are in direct conflict. You can either reduce radon and increase energy use, or vice versa.

Can not do both at the same time. At least not very easily.

On new construction there are some options. Before the slab and foundation are poured a plastic sheet can be laid down that prevents gasses like radon from seeping into the basement. That is probably the ideal solution.

But most of us don't have that option. There are ways to seal a basement from the inside, but I don't claim to know how well they work with radon. These products are mainly aimed at keeping out water. Sometimes they work and sometimes not. With radon? I don't know, but I doubt it.

One additional point. Tight houses do save energy. A lot of energy. But radon is not the only problem with tight houses. There is also mold to consider. Mold grows best in homes that have little air movement.

I suggest if you do live in a tight house to keep the windows open as much as possible, and to keep a dehumidifier running in the basement, even if your basement seems dry enough.

Running the air conditioner in the summer also helps prevent mold, but again you are wasting a lot of energy and costing yourself money.

If your goal is to have a healthy house and to be environmentally sensitive, use fans and keep the windows open in the summer, and use a dehumidifier in the basement in the winter. Keeping the temp low in the winter will also slow mold growth, and save you energy and money.

It is a balancing act. You can not have all of the different goods you might want. You can reduce radon but raise energy costs. You can save energy but have more mold and radon risk.

Each person has to decide what he values.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Schools Rules

Talk with my kids a lot. They love recess, of course, but the rules seem to have changed a lot since I was in school. No throwing snowballs! No sliding on the ice! They also can't run on a big portion of the playground, in fact on the area where most of them play.

I feel really sorry for kids today.

I had a friend who fell off the monkey bars (no monkey bars) and broke his arm in second grade. Under the monkey bars was asphalt, not wood chips. We sure don't want to risk little Jimmy or Chelsea breaking something.

Someone might fall down. Someone might get snow in the face and get mad.

My kids don't like the recess 'teachers' much at all. A bunch of crabby women. Throw a snowball and have to sit out the rest of recess. I suggested they hold off until the last minute of recess then throw the snow.

Radon in Illinois Real Estate

At today's office meeting we had a discussion of the new radon disclosure forms that all home sellers will have to fill out.

It is a joke. All that is required is that you must disclose if you have ever had the home tested, and if so, what the results were. And how would anyone ever be caught if they lied?

It is almost exactly the same verbage as on the lead paint disclosure form. So to avoid disclosing the presence of lead or radon in your home all you have to do is remain ignorant. Or lie.

How useful.

This is a clear moral hazard. Its main result is to encourage people to be ignorant of possible environmental dangers in their home, or to lose a lot of money on their home sales.

Now, lead paint is not such a problem, though it is a considerably worse pollutant than radon. Lead is easy to avoid. In Real Estate we simply assume that any home older than 1978 does have lead-based paint. Homes newer than 1978 may still have it, but the odds are a lot lower, as that was the year it became illegal to use. Builders probably continued to use it until their stocks were gone, and some painters actually added lead to paint, but generally speaking, new homes are very unlikely to be contaminated with lead.

Not so with Radon. It is impossible to predict which homes may have it, and testing for radon is problematical at best. The tests can be undermined by the homeowner simply opening basement windows or running a fan which disperses the radon.

I don't worry about radon, the 'harm' it causes is hardly established fact, but mostly speculation. Speculation based on scientific reasoning, but speculation none the less. What makes me angry is that people are being encouraged by the state to either lie, cheat, or to remain ignorant.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A New Gun Control Law

From comes word of a proposed law that would make those who establish 'gun free zones' legally liable for the protection of people there.

Makes sense to me. If someone made a law that no fire extinguishers were allowed, then shouldn't they become responsible if a fire broke out and killed someone?

Human nature is an established fact. Like it or not, some people are just predators on the rest of us. We need some way to prevent this predation, and nothing has been invented yet that works better than a gun. Until someone invents a reliable and practical stunner, guns are it.

I wonder if this law could be made applicable to places like Chicago. Not that anything like this would ever pass the legislature in a neanderthal state like Illinois. I swear, Illinois is stuck in the 20th century. Everything we learned about human nature during the 20th century is being relearned at the peoples' expense again and again in Illinois.

I am one of those down-staters who would like to see Chicago split off and given free to Wisconsin. If they would even take it, which I doubt. Have to just dump it into Lake Michigan, I guess. If it were not for Chicago, Illinois would be a pretty decent place to live.

Tropical Paradise

Two miles of beach in the Carribean. White sand and palm trees. The only thing missing was the tropical beauties, female. Where I was is still a construction site, so the tropical beauties were all muscular black men. Not my style.

I had a very nice opportunity recently for a free trip to the Dominican Republic, for a sales presentation.

If you are not familiar with it, the Dominican Republic is in the Carribean, not far from Puerto Rico. The people speak Spanish, and are racially mixed Black and Spanish with dashes of this and that. A very handsome people.

The Westin Hotel group is building a new beach-side hotel, convention center and also selling home sites and condominiums. And when I say beach, I mean BEACH. All of the homes will be not more than a minute walk from the nicest white sand beach I have seen, and most of them are actually right on the beach. Westin ownes some 2 miles of beach, and are selling the lots now.

They are also building condominiums which are right on the beach. The very cheapest ones, which don't have the beach view, are starting at just under $400,000.

I am not much of a golfer, but I fell in love with golf while there. Something about standing on a cliff overlooking the sea on three sides, and hitting off the tee over the sea to the green, wow. Having the golf pro there to help me with my grip and swing was nice too. He had me regularly popping the balls over the water and onto the green, nearly every time.

The project is called Roco Ki, and is in the Punta Cana region of the Dominican Republic. Google Punta Cana and you can see why this is such a tourist draw.

The area is quite undeveloped. Looking out over the sea I saw not a single boat, except once some lobster fishermen. The original mangrove forest is being maintained. The project will take out a bit of it, but the great majority of it will be permanently protected.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Laffer Curve, What's Your Goal?

A quick comment on the Laffer Curve and tax cuts. The Laffer Curve shows how higher tax rates may not always result in higher tax revenues. Simply put, if the government takes too much, people will respond by producing less. Taxes that are too high may result in poorer people, or at least in people who do less of whatever is being taxed, or in mass tax avoidance.

So reducing taxes may, in some cases, result over time in higher revenues for the government, if the tax rates were too high before.

OK. So, to maximize revenues you need to hit the sweet spot in the tax rates. High enough to capture as much money as possible, but not so high as to force people into poverty or into tax avoidance.

That's fine, if your goal is to maximize the size and scope of government. The more money the better in that case. But what if you are, like me, a libertarian? I value, to some level, freedom over government support and over government control.

For me, the best point on the Laffer Curve is well to the left of the tax-maximizing point. Government should be taking in far less than it could take if revenues were maximized.

This comes down to values and to my conception of a good society. I believe that in the mass, people will be happier if they have more control over their own lives than if they are burdened by more regulations. People will be happier if they have money for their retirement in their own control rather than depending on Social Security, Medicare and the like.

If you believe the opposite, then it makes sense to always choose government over peoples' freedom.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Big Tent & Huckabee

Republicans like to call the party a big tent, meaning of course that all sorts of people are welcome.

But maybe the tent is a little too big. I fear the Huckabee will prove to be a second coming of George Bush. I am unhappy with Bush (I voted for him twice, simply because the Democrat candidates were so terrible, scary terrible) but not for the reasons Liberals tend to dislike Bush. I dislike him because of his domestic policies, not his international.

George Bush could have run just as easily as a centrist Democrat. Nothing he espoused during his campaigns was particularly conservative. He did claim to want to lower taxes, and has managed to come through a little bit on that, but in nearly every other way his policies on education, immigration etc could just as easily been Dem as Repub.

And THAT is the root of the troubles Republicans are having this election cycle. Bush has managed to piss off just about every Republican constituency. Libertarians? Pissed. Evangelicals? Pissed. Small government types? Same.

Huckabee is far worse. He seems to be someone who is a Republican simply because he needed a label way back when, when he started into politics.

A Huckabee presidency will result in a generation in the wilderness for conservatives.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Another reason to love Wal-Mart?

As if we needed another reason!

Talking to my wife today about an on-going problem we have. The local small-town supermarkets have errors on almost every bill. We always check the receipts and there are errors more often than they are correct. Funny, too, the errors are on the up side. Some of the errors are funny, like the $99 head of broccoli, but usually they are small, a few cents to a few dollars. I watch other shoppers and I have yet to see anyone but me going to the service counter for a refund.

The big supermarket in Rockford that we usually shop at is nearly as bad. About half the time there is an error in their favor. These are typically with their advertised sale items. They don't seem to be properly entered in to the computer.

I would estimate we save several hundred dollars a year just by checking receipts.

But my wife mentioned that this does not happen at Wal-Mart. First, there is a screen right in front of your face where you can watch the prices as the products are scanned in. Then, there are very few errors in the first place.

And Wal-Mart's prices are generally as low as other less expensive super markets.

I don't suppose Wal-Mart food is imported from China?

Rope-a-Dope Politics and Bush

Bush is a genius at raw political gamesmanship, right up there with Bill Clinton.

Remember what really pissed off Republicans way back in the '90s? Bill Clinton stealing their every issue and making it his. 'The era of big government is over.' He baffled and confounded the right at every turn, and is now a millionaire many many times over.

George Bush now appears to be just as good. Democrats have hated Bush for his entire 2 terms, the Texas dope who 'stole' the election not just once, but twice! How could such a dummy do that? Two options. One, Carl Rove, the secret mastermind and puppet string holder. Or, maybe George Bush ain't such a dummy after all.

Most recently, Bush has stole the Democrats big issue right out from under them. The mortgage crisis is solved, all by a little moral 'suasion by the President. No great Dem bills passed, no stirring speeches by any Kennedy. Just one rural dummy getting together with a room-full of fat-cat bankers and knocking heads, getting them to 'voluntarily' hold off on their evil rate rises.

And Bush stands up afterward claiming all the credit, and even NPR runs it as straight news, Bush has made all this happen.

Dems everywhere must be gnashing teeth.

Reminds me of the great Ali, leaning back on the ropes and blocking punches with his arms till his opponent got tired, then the quick knock-out. It is all a game, a tactic. Mis-pronounce the occasional word, speak country-slow with a fake Texas accent, and big city Dems think you are dumb.

How many times does Bush have to rub their faces in it before they admit they have been had?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Capitalism, the two Memes

The link above goes to a Daily Kos poem on the evils of capitalism. Now, this sort of thing used to bother me, because I generally think capitalism is a pretty fine thing. Free people, owning the means of production, small businessmen and women, farmers, the little old ladies whose stock holdings make them the owners of America. It all seems to work pretty fine, with a few rough edges of course.

But there is another, and in fact older meaning of the word 'capitalism', as coined by Marx. This is the evil capitalism, the faceless corporations, the evil fat cats in cahoots with big government to make a quick million and, just for kicks, throw some old folks out in the street to starve. And we do, in fact, have that capitalism in America as well.

But my question for the writer is, what could we possibly replace capitalism with that would work any better? Certainly not socialism or communism. Communism has proven itself a failure at anything besides mass starvation and mass murder. They do make some pretty cool statues of their presidents-for-life, but what other product has any communist country produced that anyone would want?

Socialism has a better reputation, if you discount the socialism of Mussolini and Hitler. Modern Western European socialists are a pretty despicable bunch, but so far they have not killed all that many people.

I guess the Swedes did manage to institute one of Hitler's schemes, the genocide of their lower classes. But they did it nicely, without concentration camps. They just cut the mens' nuts off, and tied the tubes of the women. Over a few decades suddenly there were no more Traveling People in Sweden, no more Gypsies, and few enough poor Swedes. Eliminate the criminal classes, heh?

Take a look at the other countries where socialism is strong, Germany, France etc. France is currently experiencing riots in the streets due mainly to the unemployment of their underclass. People who want to work but can't because of socialist regulation of the economy. European socialism works great if you are already rich. Not so good if you are poor.

Socialism does seem successful at one thing, reducing population. Birth rates seem pretty tightly tied to the level of socialist government in a country. Japan, for example, is not officially socialist, but it is corporatist, with the government and big companies giving strong safety nets to employed people. It is harsh on outsiders, but most Japanese seem happy to work for big corps and the government. Their birth rate is so low that as of a few years ago the population actually began to fall!

Europe is much the same, cradle (less of that now) to grave safety, and fewer and fewer people to appreciate the loving care.

America is well along the socialist path, with plenty of welfare programs, but not quite as much regulation as Europe, yet. Our population is stable, only increasing because of high immigration.

Seems to me if your goal is the destruction of your culture and people, socialism is the perfect path.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Houses and nice people

Showing two houses tomorrow to a very nice young couple, in my home town. And two houses Thursday to a nice young lady with a small child.

The world is good. Real Estate is fun.

Showing houses is the best part of this job. Listing and selling is stressful and hard work. Showing houses to eager buyers is just fun. I enjoy the research involved in finding matches for people. I have been out with the couple several times already, and I think I have a pretty good handle on what they like. The houses we are going to see should be close fits. Maybe they will get 'lucky' and one will be just the right house.

Or maybe one will be just right for the husband, and the other just right for the wife. Happens all the time. My standard technique in that case is to gently separate the two, and speak to the husband along the lines of 'do you really want to be fighting with her for the next ten years about how you could have bought her just the house she wanted...?'

Make the wife happy, and the whole home is happy. Make the wife unhappy...?

The young lady for Thursday I have not met yet, but we have had extensive conversations on the phone, and I have mailed her several batches of possibilities to look at. She definitely likes brick Tudors. So I spent some time this afternoon searching the web for brick Tudors. Only two in the area she wants to live in, so we will see them. Maybe she will get lucky and one will be juuuuust right.

City Boy Environmentalists

People come to environmentalism from many paths. One thing I have noted is that the really crazy environmentalists seem to all be city people.

I know plenty of people concerned for the environment who also seem to be practical, down-to-earth sorts.

But the crazys, the deep environmentalists, the Earth-Firsters and the PETA types are nearly always big city people. Why should that be?

The Earth is a city park writ large. Parks have boundries, neat paths, flower beds. They are never large enough to have anything approaching a true natural ecosystem, and are usually full of non-native species of plants and animals.

City people learn, at a deeply unconcious level, to relate to the environment via their childhood parks. Places to go and play and watch squirrels and feed pigeons. Parks have rules. Don't walk here, don't touch that flower.

Flyover country. That term sums up their feelings about the rest of the world. But actually to fly over the US and look down and what do you see? Well, mostly you see city, because the jets fly too high to see anything unless you are taking off or landing.

So you have to actually get out and take a drive through the country, off the interstates, to get a real feel for how big, empty and green the US actually is. Get out and walk. I watched four fox kits playing this summer, off a small rural gravel road. Magical.

Environmentalists fly somewhere, look around for a while, then fly home, convinced by the presence of a Starbucks and MacDonalds near their resort that the whole world is just as bady damaged as their own home towns are.

It is a lack of vision, a constrained mental universe that creates the green outlook on life. People who grow up in the country have a different world view. The world is large, unbounded, and intensly green (if you grew up in the desert you may contest that last point). Animals abound, more now than for the last 100 years and more. Forests, cut down for farmland in the 1800s are regrowing or regrown so that except for a fallen-down fence or a lonely foundation you would never know anything had ever been different.

The world is new and full of life and beautiful. I am willing to work to keep it that way. There are problems needing resolution. We need to keep a beady eye on companies and governments to keep them on the true.

We also need to keep level heads. Look up and see the world as it is. And it isn't your seedy city park.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hillary, Obama, and guns

Here is a question I would like asked of the top candidates, Republican and Democrat: Do you believe the second amendment protects an individual right?

This is a big deal right now, with the DC vs Heller case coming up soon before the Supreme Court. What could be more more timely? The Repubs have mostly answered this in the affirmative, but I have yet to hear any of the Dem candidates speak on specifically this point.

Guns and Chicago People

Once again, Laura Washington proves my point. Chicago people know their own. She does not trust her fellow citizens to own handguns. I am sure she knows them very well. Maybe if I knew them I wouldn't trust them either.

But I do trust MY neighbors with guns. Hey Laura, maybe you should try getting out of Chicago for a while, meet a nicer group of people.

How odd it is that my neighbors don't run around the streets shooting each other. Apparently Laura's neighbors do, thus her fear of handguns.

Personally, I am a lot more afraid of my neighbors driving skills than I am of their guns. Fortunately, my little town has three squad cars, so we always know that the man is watching! I enjoy reading the police report every week in the local paper. So-and-so stopped for speeding, found to have no insurance, no registration, expired license or whatever.

Last month my neighbor, a local deputy sheriff, arrested a guy who DID have a loaded handgun in his car. Turns out he was from Rockford, where he had a warrant out for his arrest. Big news around here, made the local paper at least 3 times that I saw, and no one even got shot.

What does it take to make the newspaper in Chicago? Do everyday murders get written up?

Hugo Chavez

So Hugo lost the vote that would have allowed him to be 'President for Life'.

What a chilly sound that phrase has. Haven't we had enough presidents for life? I understand that Chavez' supporters are mainly the underclass and Euro-leftists, so we shouldn't be surprised if they don't have much of a grasp of 20th century history. Socialism and dictatorship. Dictatorship and socialism.

Hand and glove. Birds of a feather.

Chavez hasn't had time yet to bankrupt Venezuela. With all that oil money he may manage to hold on for decades.

I heard some young leftists on the radio last night, all aglow about the vote in Venezuela. They were certain that Hugo would win, that the polls for the last weeks were rigged by the opposition. They seemed particularly angry that capitalism had failed to bring Heaven on Earth. Why, even right here in Madison Wisconsin we can't buy the things we need....!

Makes me sad. Another generation wasting itself on socialism.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Energy Use and Carbon Emissions

An article from the NYT suggests that there are a lot of easy and cheap ways we can cut carbon emissions and save money at the same time. Of course, being the New York Times they have to throw in some government mandates, just to demonstrate their ideological purity, but in general I agree with some of their points.

I am waiting for the NYT to advocate everyone keep down the temp in their house to 60 degrees, like I do. Just got our last electric bill. $36.00. Last month was over $40.00. We use electric to cook and to heat our water. Just wear your long johns and sweaters in the house.

Yet, somehow I doubt there are many greens who can sacrifice their bodily comfort to try this. Am I wrong? I would love to hear from you greens on this. Most of the greens I know are more along the Al Gore line, content to chastise others. Logs and splinters.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Immigration and Deportation to Mexico 2

In my last post I started off to talk about the evils of deportation to Mexico and midway through decided it was too long a topic. So here is the second half.

I often hear claims that it is just terrible to break up families by deporting a mom or dad to Mexico leaving their American-born kids behind.

I don't get it, on several levels.

First, deportation does not break families up. It reunites them! Don't these poor deportees have extended families in Mexico? Wouldn't the kids like to go live with Grandma for a while, eat good home Mexican cooking, learn more about their roots? Anyway, if the kids are American citizens can't they come and go back as they please? They have US passports. I don't see the deprivation here. And if the dad or mom who stays in the US is here legally, can't he or she travel back and forth? This just is not any great hardship, folks.

And besides, it is not like Mexico is some horrible third world hell-hole. Mexico may not have US levels of affluence, but isn't Haiti either. People have plenty of food, especially if they have a family member in the US sending them extra cash. We are supposed to believe that being sent to Mexico is a kind of punishment? So why does MECHA want to have large parts of the US turned into Azatlan? If Mexico is so horrible, shouldn't Latin immigrants want to keep the US as it is?

Funny we don't hear much of these activists protesting IN MEXICO for improvements in the economy there. Mexico is a democracy of sorts. The current government was the opposition just a few years ago. Internal change is possible, and in the last couple of decades a lot has changed for the better.

These people just can't seem to make up their minds. Is Mexico great and wonderful or a hell-on-earth?

Immigration and Deportation

A recent article on immigration shows the number of illegal immigrants is very high in historic terms. As high as it has ever been as a percentage of the population.

I have no problem with high levels of immigration. In my formerly lily-white family I can think of 5 cousins who are married to non-Euro foreigners, and all but one live in the US. Including myself. And all are legal immigrants.

I also have no problem with Latino immigration, Mexican or otherwise. I speak Spanish quite well and have lived in Latin America myself.

But I do not like politically active illegal immigrants in the US who demand 'rights', or who claim that this or that part of the US belongs to Mexico. They base their claims on various old Spanish land claims, or on a supposed ancestral connection to the land. Both are bunk. The Spanish attacked and conquered Mexico and large parts of what are now the US. They also claimed large areas they never occupied further north. Then the Texans, Californians and the US conquered it in turn. Our claim is as good as the Spaniards was, according to the rules of the game as played in those days. Besides, after the Texan and Californian independence the Spanish land grants remained in existence. The descendants of those claim-holders are now American citizens and have been since the beginning.

As for the genetic connection, well, ask the Apaches, Hopis and other Native Americans of the Southwest how they think about Mexican claims to their homelands. The aboriginals of Mexico may have fought wars of conquest against these peoples, but what rights does that give them now, 400 or 600 years later? Certainly the Mexicans descended from tribes further south of the border have no special family claims. The Aztecs were the bloody bullies of Mexico. We are supposed to celebrate their brutality and reward their descendants? If a Mexican can show that his family from time immemorial has lived within a hundred or two hundred miles of the border, maybe he has something to discuss. None of the other Mexicans do.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

IQ and Economics

I would like social reformers to remember one little thing. Half of the population is below average in IQ. That means that every time you add a layer of complexity to society you are leaving another slice of the people out.

Do your own taxes? I guess that a lot of very intelligent, but wealthy people have someone do their taxes for them. So the complexity of the tax code is irrelevant, as long as there are experts who can be hired to do taxes, the wealthy couldn't care less. In fact, the complexity is a feature, not a bug. It allows all sorts of tax shelters to exist hidden in the mass of paperwork.

But lets look at it from the point of view of the stupid. And lets not kid ourselves. There are stupid people, and they have to do their taxes just like everyone else. But hey! What high-paying jobs are there for stupid people? A lot of them work for the government, of course, but really, stupid people tend to get paid low wages. So they are stupid and poor. Not many hire a tax accountant to figure out their burden. Instead, they muddle through it, miss all the savings they might have gotten, make mistakes that could get them in trouble, and end up paying when they shouldn't have. Besides all that, it takes hours and days to figure out all the forms, if you only do it once a year. Wasted money, wasted time, wasted life.

But hear the outcry when anyone suggests a major simplification of the tax code. In spite of all the good it would do for the most vulnerable in our society, the stupid, no big name Democrat is willing to sign on.

Amazingly it is Republicans who favor tax simplification (at least a few Republican pols say they favor it) while Democrats oppose it, supposedly on the grounds that it would reduce revenue to the government.

I am confused. The evil mean corrupt Republicans want to simplify the tax code and make life easier for the weak and helpless in our society, while the shining knights of liberalism want the current dark swamp of despond tax code we currently have?

Don't they care about the stupid? Looks to me like they care more for the welfare of the government than for the poor.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Serious Books

It has been a while since I have read any serious books. I used to read a great deal of the old classics of western civ, the kinds of things we never got in high school or college, the old Greeks and Romans. I sure do wish I had read these under a competent prof, but I was too busy with Biology and Chemistry to take the time, and none of it was required so I didn't. Oh, wasted youth!

I did manage to read a lot on my own, but the last couple of years my reading has been mainly soft sci-fi fun stuff. Brain rot. But today I re-started Aristotle's The Art of Rhetoric. Enthymemes and Syllogisms and all that stuff. Good tough brain food. Hope I do better with it this time than last. I have Wiki now to help me with the hard words. :--)

Obama = Giuliani

Classical values blog has this interesting post today. Mr. Obama seems to think us country hicks are OK to have guns, but big city folks are not. He compared Iowa and Philly. Classical Values makes the good point that Philly is a much more dangerous place to live than rural Iowa.

I would like to add tha Rudy G is in the same camp with Obama on this, and it seems to be a pretty common view among the political class.

Maybe they just know their own people best? Maybe country folk are just smarter, calmer and better educated and self controled than city people? Or, could it be (whisper) they are all just a pack of racists? After all, we know that some types of people are more common in the country, and others concentrated in the cities.

Gun control in the US was instituted along with the rest of Jim Crow to control the freedmen after the war. The history is all there in Black and White (pun intended). Why should we think it is any different now?

Except that it is not probably strictly racial, it is more class and money. Even in NY and LA the rich and well-connected can get their gun permits, while the rest of us just have to depend on luck and prayer that today isn't the day we get beaten, robbed or murdered.

Self control is learned. Take away the environment that produces self control and you eventually end up with people who don't have it. So it is in Chicago, NY, LA, Philly, Detroit. The lower income urban population has been treated like zoo animals for so long they no longer have, or need to have those old values.

I see the Repubs giving this lip service from time to time, but the Dems don't even seem to recognise the problem. From an electoral point of view there isn't much to choose between them along party lines. Again it comes down to the actions of individual pols. I will prefer to vote for the man or woman who has demonstrated self control in his or her own life, has run a business, or sucessfully run a city or state.

Sorry Hillary and Obama. What have you done but work in government you whole lives? Health care? You got it, paid for. Police protection? 24 hour secret service, armored limos, gated homes, private jets.

Mit Romney and Bill Richardson have this. So does Rudy, and Mike H.

Iraq, what's gone wrong?

Can someone explain to me what has gone wrong in Iraq? As wars go, it seems to have been about as 'good' a war (for us) as any could possibly be. The offensive was over in a couple of weeks. Rounding up or killing the bitter-enders and foreign jihadis has taken a few years, and cost us a few thousand lives.

From a geo-political standpoint, so far it has been small change. Nobody really cares about the money spent, obviously. Except ignorant people who don't understand that the money, whether spent overseas on war or domestically on some make-work program, is all wasted money anyway.

From a spending standpoint, I could wish that money had not been spent by any government anywhere, domestically or in foreign parts. That is the La-La-Land Libertarian in me speaking. The older, more world-weary part tells me that the government will spend, HAS TO spend, every possible thin dime left over in the economy. The is never any left over.

So I don't feel the money spent in Iraq has been wasted any more than any money spent by the government. Most all of it is wasted.

And the 4000 some American lives lost in Iraq? Makes me very sad. A young man from my small town is among them. I attended the ceremony for a memorial in his honor. For the families of the slain this is a true tragedy.

But was the job worth doing at that cost? I so, yes. Removing Saddam was not wrong. Repressing the jihadis and terrorists who were making home in Iraq was not and is not wrong.

One can argue with this or that failure on the part of the President, but that does not invalidate the action.

Why do they call?

So I am in the office and get a call on a rural property I have listed. People want to know how much, how big etc. Fine. I don't hide anything.

Then I offer to send them information on properties that suit their needs. They tell me their needs. I research a bit and e-mail or mail some listings. They call back with questions. I answer. We go look at property together a few times. And I never hear from them again.

That's fine too, I suppose. I don't expect every call to result in a sale. But I just wonder sometimes what people are thinking when the waste so much of their own time, weeks and months of blundering around the countryside only to finally decide not to buy anything. It's a hobby, I guess.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Why Get N Better?

Why did I Name my blog Get N Better? It certainly doesn't describe my typing skills.

I was asked a while back what my motto was, for a newspaper bio in our local paper. I had to think a bit and came up with 'life is good and getting better'.

And I think that is true both personally and globally. With a few exceptional years my life has gotten steadily better and better. I have more money to spend, more saved against hard times, and in many ways things are better now, particularly in comparison with my school years, when I never had an extra dime, and didn't really like school anyway.

The years after school were generally tough too, low income, low paid jobs, no car, and a quality of female companionship that went along with that.

By my late 20s though, things were looking a lot better. I had a decent job and plenty of money to spend on myself and my girls, so I had a lot more girls...

Then I got married and had only one girl, and was happy with that, then 2, then 3. We stopped there. Family life suits me.

Globally, again with some exceptions, life is also getting better. There are some countries where life is getting worse, but in the main people are living longer and are better fed, and political rights are slowly expanding across the globe.

Why be a pessimist? Be happy. Life is getting better and better. I would hate to be one of the dull people who are always whining about how terrible this or that situation is. Get out and do something about it, if you think it is so terrible. And have fun doing it! My years in the Peace Corps were fun, and I may actually have helped a few people a little bit while I was doing it.

Now, I am helping people find nice new homes for their families. This is fun too.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Environmentalists Revisited, or, Out of Sight, Out of Mind

...Actually, I suppose environmentalists do care about birds, in the abstract. It is just that they care a lot less about birds than they do about making political statements and being in the limelight. I am sure the architects, builders and the big heads of this university sat for hundreds of publicity photos and had hours of interviews taken singing praises of how wonderfully caring they all are....

In a recent post I wrote the above, but I realise on rereading it I made an error. I stated that environmentalists care about birds in the abstract, but I should have said in the concrete. Environmentalists in my experience are deeply caring and empathetic people. They do care when they see a dead or injured animal, or when the see or hear of hunters shooting animals. The sight or memory of blood and death shocks them deeply. And honestly, I believe.

But this does not outweigh their other interests. Out of sight, out of mind. They don't let one principle stand in the way of their political aims. They want what they want, and no animal will stand in the way.

They want people to stop hunting, trapping, wearing fur, drilling for oil. Their concerns are for peoples' behavior, not animal welfare specifically. Thus we see domesticated fur animals like minks released from cages en mass, where they immediately start fighting, killing and eating each other, and the few survivors quickly starve to death because they don't know how to hunt.

This calls to my mind a street preacher who used to come on campus and yell bible verses at the girls who were not wearing enough clothing to suit him. The physical manifestation of 'sin' worried him quite a lot. He seemed less interested in the spiritual welfare of of the girls.

Environmentalists, some of them anyway, are the new Puritans. They know that they run over little animals every day in their cars, but don't stop driving. They don't stop to look at the dead.

They know that oil wells in third world countries cause a lot more environmental harm than anything in the US, but they don't allow new drilling in the US. They don't travel to Nigeria or Venezuala to protest oil drilling.

Instead they fly to Bali or Rio to attend global warming seminars.

Do what is fun, easy. Go where it is pretty and 'protest' then come home all warm and fuzzy because you 'did your part'.

Remember the Puritans? The Salem witch trials? One funny historical tidbit is that the people who confessed to being witches were not killed. They confessed their sins, repented and were readmitted to society. Only those who refused to 'admit' to being witches, under torture and threat of death, were killed.

Hard environmentalists are Puritans. They want confession and repentance, freedom from environmental sins. They threaten death for those who refuse to confess (literal, not figurative death).

I suppose I am not green enough to escape. Even though I drive a small car, limit my water use so my family never uses enough water to owe more than the minimum required charge. We recycle everything and never throw away food. We limit driving to the minimum and I do all the shopping on my way to and from work.

In fact, for the first 45 years of my life I didn't even own a car. I took a bike or public transportation everywhere. I grow a lot of our food in my big garden. I don't burn leaves but compost them. We use a rake, not a leaf blower. We keep the temperature down in our house to 60 in the winter, and never use the air conditioning in the summer. We do a lot of other things to cut energy and eliminate waste.

But we don't do these things for the right reasons. We do them because our income is low, not specifically to 'save' the environment. I could challenge any environmentalist to a contest, but I doubt few could beat me unless he lived like the Una-Bomber.

But unless I confess my sins and believe, I am lost to the environmental Puritans.

Sorry, I already have a religion. I don't need yours.

Apocalyptic Mortgage Failures

I blame the banks, of course. Your average person is expected to be an expert on whatever he does for a living, and maybe a few other things he has interest in, but not everyone is deeply interested in finance.

I can do a little research, 15 or 20 minutes on the computer and I can tell you what any given home in my market area should sell for, what it has sold for in the past, how much that neighborhood has appreciated (or DE-preciated) in the last given number of years, and what all the neighboring homes sold for last. Etc.

I don't expect other people to know how to do all this, or to even have access to the data to easily do it. I often run into wannabe sellers who have the most exaggerated ideas of what their home will sell for. Almost always they are wrong on the up side, not the down.

But when we go to a bank for a mortgage, one of the first things they do is appraisal of the property. They are not supposed to lend any more than the property is worth. The property is, after all, the collateral against which the money is lent. So if the borrower can't pay, the bank simply takes back the property and sells it again. In theory, the bank should always come out ahead. They have been paid something over however many months the borrower did manage to pay the mortgage, plus they can resell the property if they have to take it back. Minus their transaction expenses of course.

So why are the lenders in trouble?

Appraisals are a big game. Banks want to lend, buyers want to buy, sellers want to sell (for a gain), and everyone is happy if the property just happens to appraise for a hair over what the buyer is offering. How wonderful.

What the home is appraised for and what it can be sold for are two very different things, as banks are again finding out. The lender is supposed to look out for his own interests, and incidentally not trap borrowers into debt beyond what they can afford. They are failing badly on both counts.

I make my living off of commissions. The more the house sells for, the more money I make. This is a clear moral trap. I have often told people that if the bank tells them they are good for 'X' loan, they should strongly consider only actually borrowing 75% of that. That advice hurts my bottom line, but I have to live with myself, not just live. Lenders have pushed too many people into bankruptcy by over-lending. And this helps the banks how?

I don't expect non-experts to be experts, and neither should banks. A little honest advice, a little credit counseling at this point might have avoided much of the trouble we are in. I want to see bankers' heads rolling. A little unemployment might be a good learning experience for them. It probably won't make them any more honest, but it might make a few of them more cautious.

'"We haven't faced a downturn like this since the Depression," said Bill Gross, chief investment officer of PIMCO, the world's biggest bond fund. He's not suggesting anything like those terrible times -- but, as an expert on the global credit crisis, he speaks with authority.
"Its effect on consumption, its effect on future lending attitudes, could bring us close to the zero line in terms of economic growth," he said. "It does keep me up at night."
Some 2 million homeowners hold $600 billion of subprime adjustable-rate mortgage loans, known as ARMs, that are due to reset at higher amounts during the next eight months. Subprime loans are those made to people with poor credit. Not all these mortgages are in trouble, but homeowners who default or fall behind on payments could cause an economic shock of a type never seen before.
Some of the nation's leading economic minds lay out a scenario that is frightening. '

Friday, November 23, 2007

Unintended Environmental Consequences

So it appears the greens are screwing up again. Environmentally 'friendly' buildings slaughter birds in the 100s of thousands. Taken along with wind power, it looks as if environmentalists hate birds. The more dead birds the better, is their mantra.

Actually, I suppose environmentalists do care about birds, in the abstract. It is just that they care a lot less about birds than they do about making political statements and being in the limelight. I am sure the architects, builders and the big heads of this university sat for hundreds of publicity photos and had hours of interviews taken singing praises of how wonderfully caring they all are.

Thanksgiving Food

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I imagine a lot of people had my experience, of temporarily ignoring my normal diet guidelines.

My diet is a bit unusual. I mostly follow the paleolithic diet as outlined by Ray Audette, Loren Cordein and others.

What that means is that I avoid all foods that were not part of the human natural diet. And that means no or very few grains, no milk, no or few beans, no potatoes and no highly processed 'modern' foods and generally low carbohydrates.

Thanksgiving. Pie. Mashed potatoes and gravy (made with wheat flour). Hot buttered rolls. Pie. More PIE!

I love my diet. Not having 3 migraines a week is the main reason I stick with it. A couple of days of eating bread or anything with wheat in it is usually enough to bring one on, and I will often get several over the course of a couple of weeks as the gluten gets slowly processed out of my system.

Low carb, whether under the paleo diet or the looser low carb pop diets that are so popular, is also easy to follow. The whole digestive system seems to work better, less gas, regular 'movements', no bloated feeling, mor energy all day long. On a day to day basis I can follow the paleo diet without feeling I am missing anything.

But Thanksgiving now, that is different. So I ate mashed potaotes and gravy. And pie, several slices.

I think I got more wheat and more carbs yesterday than in the previous three weeks. Thanksgiving bloat? I could hardly move for hours, I felt hot and weak and sleepy. We all sat and watched that movie about the kid and his Red Rider BB gun and tried to recover. It was about 6 hours before I felt normal again.

One day doesn't kill a diet. I have no regrets, though I may if the migraine kicks in tomorrow! And next year I will do the same.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Adverse Possession

Follow this link and read an outrageous story about how a politically connected individual can steal his neighbor's land. It is called Adverse Possession and it is a long-standing tradition in our country.

It is also called squatter's rights. What happens is if someone moves onto an unoccupied piece of land and stays there and uses it for some statutory length of time, in Illinois 20 years, then they can claim that land even if the owner pays his taxes, asks the person to leave etc.

Now this had a noble origin. It was intended to prevent a few rich people from monopolizing all the new lands in the country through politically connected land deals. A pioneer could move onto a patch of forest or prairie, develop it, fence it, live on it, and eventually claim it as his own property. The owner never knew about it because he had never actually seen the vast tracts he had 'purchased'.

In fact Adverse Possession was common enough that the super-rich never really tried to monopolize all the land, because they knew they couldn't manage it and throw out all those squatters.

The states liked it as it allowed for faster development of the state and kept out-of-state landowners from controlling too much of the land.

Poor people liked it because they could move out into the wilds and cut out a farm and make a living through their own sweat and energy.

But in these days it is used mainly by the fat cats to steal land from their neighbors, as in the case above.

I wonder what political party the thief supports. Only one guess allowed.

Begging for money in a good cause!

The big brain types are ramping up efforts to win this Supreme Court case. Those of us with lesser brains need to help too. Bucks, friends. And exposure. Tell all, pass along.

Copied in its entirty from Clayton Cramer's blog:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Your Chance To Help Us Win The Supreme Court CaseThe following comes from Professor Joe Olson:
Academics for the Second Amendment ("A2A") will be filing an amicus brief in the US Supreme Court in support of Mr. Heller (and urging the Supreme Court to affirm the Court of Appeals decision that the DC gun laws are unconstitutional). Our brief will be written by attorneys David Hardy and Joseph Olson with historical assistance from Clayton Cramer. As one of the several pro-gun amici, we'll be taking an approach that focuses on the ratification process in 1791 and the meaning and usage of terms found in the Second Amendment. We will show that no one in America, at that time, could have understood the amendment to preserve a state or government organization's "right" and that everyone who did speak out did so in the context of a meaningful individual right to keep and bear arms.District of Columbia v. Heller will decide whether or not the Second Amendment protects any American from gun bans and confiscations.
Preparing and filing the amicus brief will take thousands of additional dollars. A2A will be facing attorney fees, printing expenses, filing fees, travel and lodging expenses, etc. We have some money but not enough.
A2A is a tax-exempt educational organization recognized under IRC §501(c)(3) [that makes your contributions tax-deductible]. Our primary goal is to give the “right to keep and bear arms” enshrined in the Bill of Rights its proper, prominent place in Constitutional discourse and analysis.
A2A was formed in 1992 by a number of present and former law school teachers, joined by historians, political scientists, and philosophers of government, who believe it is time to stand and be counted in support of a complete Bill of Rights which includes an individual right under the Second Amendment. The organization seeks to foster intellectually honest discourse on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and, of course, the environment in which academics, judges, politicians, and the public place the rights preserved by the Second Amendment.
A2A has filed friend-of-the-court briefs (A2A was an amicus in the U.S. Supreme Court in Lopez and the U.S. Court of Appeals in Emerson), sponsored academic symposia, encouraged media commentary, supported research and publication, and challenged the legal profession and the public to appreciate the place of the individual right to keep and bear arms in the American constitutional scheme. A major endeavor has been a series of “Open Letter” advertisements signed by groups of University and College professors. The signers cannot be dismissed by the media as “gun nuts” nor can their statements be ignored as without foundation. Their academic records and reputations are too strong for that to occur. The message is simple – the Second Amendment is there, it does preserve a meaningful individual right for responsible persons, and it cannot, without duplicity, be overlooked or interpreted into meaninglessness.
We need your help. If you believe in full and fair discourse on the Bill of Rights, A2A should receive your support. A2A is open to all. You don’t have to be “academic” in order to join. Your contributions are tax deductible. Please don’t ignore this request --- copy this post for a friend, forward it on, and send in your check.
Very truly yours,
Joseph Olson
Professor of LawPresidentAcademics for the Second Amendment
Post Office Box 131254St. Paul, Minn.
You can also visit the Academics for the Second Amendment blog.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Guns on the Supreme Court

So the Supreme Court is finally after all these years going to treat the second amendment. Wow, are the Democrats in trouble now. I can hardly think of any issue that is more likely to hurt and less likely to help them in the coming election season.

Any way this goes they are going to hurt. Suppose the court rules that there is no individual right to arms, something leading Dems have been fighting for for many years. The uproar among average citizens across the political spectrum would sweep Republicans into power in almost every state, and in national elections it would lock up both houses of Congress and the presidency for cycles to come.

The only places Democrats would maintain power would be the big urban hell-holes they have already banned most arms in. Chicago, New York, Detroit, DC, LA and so on. The nation would look like a nice red delicious with a few purple pimples on it.

Even if the favored Democrat position goes down in defeat, and individual rights are upheld, the slap in the face, loss of face would have the whole left wing of the party so demoralized they are unlikely to gain anything from it.

Simply put, guns are a big big deal to the pro-gun side, and a side show for the anti-gun side. Democrats have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

Odd though, that a 'win' for their side in the courts means a serious loss of political power. Dem leaders have to be praying that their side loses!

Why on Earth the Democrats allowed the anti-gunners to take over the party I have no idea. I always thought the Democrats were in favor of individual rights and 'people power'. Guess I was wrong.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Careers in Real Estate

Or, the most expensive hobby I ever had.

Ever thought Real Estate might be a good career for you? I have to admit this is the most interesting job I have ever done. So much to know. So much to learn. And you can really help people, really make a positive difference. A home is such an important thing and helping people get just the right one is so satisfying.

It has all the addictive aspects of a combination of hunting, fishing and gambling. The thrill of the big deal that goes right. The pain of the big client who wastes your time, spends your money and then simply disappears, never to be heard from again. (Lots of those) The careful preparation for something that you never know, until the actual moment the check changes hands, will result in a commission.

A lot like deer hunting. Sometimes the deer just stumbles out in front of you the first day, sometimes you sit in a cold tree weekend after weekend all season long and never see doe, let alone a buck.

I love it. But can you do it? Ask yourself a few questions. Do you like joining groups and being involved in planning events? Do you meet a lot of new people every day? Do you have lots of friends, relatives, co-workers, who will be happy to pass your name on to others, who trust and love you?

Answer yes to all of these and maybe you can make it in Real Estate. No to all? Oh well.

And maybe most important, can you afford to go six months without a pay check? I did, my first six months. Then things got OK for a while. Then they didn't. Etc.

Guns Minorities Racial Profiling

From the Boston Post. Now Boston wants its cops to ask parents for permission to search teens' rooms for guns. Uhhhh. I must be dumb or something, but, why don't the parents just do that themselves? If they really care that is.

How many poor residents of Boston are afraid enough of the police that they feel they can not turn down these 'requests' without that becoming probable cause in itself?

Now don't quote the law at me. I know that you can turn down a request by the police for a search. But I am a nice, educated middle class White living in a small town with no crime. Cops don't bother people like me much beyond the occasional ticket.

For the neighborhoods targeted in this effort the people may justifiably have very different feelings about the police. Somehow I doubt that it is Boston's upper class homes that will be searched. Do I sniff racial profiling here? No? Big policeman shows up and says 'can we search for illegal guns in your kid's room?' Poor mom with a nice tan looks at big cop and thinks 'I don't want trouble with the man.'

Just another internal contradiction of liberal thought. Guns = bad. Minorities = good. Minorities with guns = bad. Racial profiling = bad. Liberal Bostonian White folks never get searched = ?

Head explodes.

Found on:

Bush and the media

Some useful commentary on how the media thinks. Found on

Root Causes

I heard an advertisement on the radio for a charity that claimed to be fighting the root causes of third world poverty. That's nice.

There wasn't any information in the ad for just how they were helping poor folks in Africa throw off their dictatorial governments and establish a free market and civil rights.

Oh, that wasn't the root cause they are treating? Sorry. It must be some other root cause.

I don't mean to be too negative. Fighting illiteracy, disease and all that is important, but the only true root cause of poverty is oppression.

This is a topic I can claim some knowledge of. I worked 2 years in Central America in the Peace Corps, and studied some of this later in grad school. I have maintained an interest in development. I am actually very encouraged at the gains many countries have made.

Countries where people are free to own land and businesses, and to live without fear of violent oppression can advance. Those places that don't guarantee these things don't advance. Freedom is the key. Following basic freedom are things like low taxes, low regulatory burden, and open access to international markets. And then literacy, access to health care and so on.

Free people become literate and buy health care and insist on other political rights. These things are important but secondary.

Mortgage crisis

A few comments on the mortgage 'crisis'.

I asked a mortgage loan officer today his opinion on what the government should do about the recent increase in foreclosures. He basically wants to keep regulation of actual lending standards fairly relaxed. Not surprising for someone in his business. (We were doing an open house together, and I may actually have found a hot buyer for the house! Yeah!)

I think Congress is in a world of trouble here. Anything they do is going to be wrong. In particular the Democrats are seriously over a barrel on this one.

Now, normally, this sounds like the kind of issue that Democrats can really get behind. Big business screwing the little guy, big business being blind to the obvious errors of their ways, all that populist blow.

But think about this. Democrats are proposing standards on who can be approved for a loan. Uh oh. Who, specifically what kinds of people, are likely to be turned down? Lower income. Which means of course that recent immigrants, Blacks, Latinos and other 'disadvantaged' groups are going to be hit disproportionately. Any group whose members have on average lower incomes, higher income to debt ratios, or lower savings is going to be turned down for loans more than are lily Whites, certain Asian groups etc. We all know who is where on this curve.

Now the Democrats have spent a lot of political capital championing the rights of the disadvantaged to get loans for homes. Banks are under tremendous legal pressure to give out enough loans to members of these groups so as not to appear to be discriminating unfairly for reasons of race, sex or whatever.

But Democrats want to solve this economic problem. But the only way to solve it is to injure their pets. And these pets can bite back at the ballot box.

Republicans have no fears on this issue. Everyone knows that Republicans are cold-hearted bastards who don't care if minorities starve under the bridges of our great country. None of these people vote in large enough numbers for Republicans anyway for any individual Republican pol to worry much.

I figure there will be sound and fury, and nothing more. Democrats will blow hot for a few months, then produce some weak weasely bill that promises glorious futures and delivers nothing but paperwork.

Republicans will oppose the bill for stupid reasons that have little to do with the facts, then vote for it anyway, hoping to get credit from people who will never consider voting for them anyway.

My own opinion? Congress should do nothing at all. Lots of formerly high paid execs will get the ax, lending will briefly be more intelligently done, then a new cycle will start. And in another ten years or so another bubble will burst. It is gonna happen anyway, why not let the market punish the companies stupid or venal enough to get in that business? At least give the poor and ignorant a CHANCE to get in. Some will do it right and get ahead. Some will fail and have a foreclosure on their credit records for a few years. This ain't the 1930s. A foreclosure is not the killer it once was.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday School

Just got home from my night job. Real estate doesn't pay enough in these tough times for a new Realtor like me to survive on it alone. Now I have my other responsibilities to take care of. In a few hours I have the adult Sunday School lesson to teach. We have been working slowly through the book of Acts. Today we are in Acts 18. This is where Apollos is first introduced, and I need to do some background reading before the class.

Apollos is a fascinating person, and I just wish we knew more about him. I guess because he was not one of the original apostles his words were not recorded, unless the anonymous book of Hebrews was written by him, as some speculate.

'Teaching' Sunday School is humbling. First of all, most of the members are older folks, most of whom have been studying the Bible far longer than I have. So I have to really prepare. I have learned more this last year than in a long long time.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Turkey cutting

The church is having our Thanksgiving dinner tonight. My job is turkey cutter. I have the knife all sharpened up, can shave with it, and ready to go. Should be fun.

Hope someone brings home-made cranberry sauce!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Taken a look recently at mortgage interest rates? Pretty high, aren't they.

Well, no, not really. They seem high to us now because we can remember that they were a bit lower two years ago. But if you look at the longer term, back through the 1980s, interest rates are very near their historic lows. A graph shows rates falling and falling all through the '80s and '90s and just the slightest little up-tick this last year.

Now is the time to buy! Prices are falling in the big markets, and stable or drifting down in smaller markets while mortgages are cheap. BUY! This is the classic buyers' market that everyone always wants to get in at the beginning of.

Sure, prices may continue to fall all through next year. But will mortgages stay low? I doubt it, not with warning signs of inflation appearing. The FED can try, but they can not control the natural level of prices and interest forever. The dollar is getting cheaper, prices of goods are rising, and eventually interest rates must rise.

Met a client today who wanted a nice lot to build a house on. So we looked around on the MLS and found one that looked beautiful, large and green, nice rural character close to his work. But why is it so cheap? $11,000 for over half an acre!

I drove by and walked it. It is in the crease between two large hills. Every rain it would wash. Funny, it is listed as a buildable site. And the FEMA maps show it not to be in a flood plain. Oh well.

We will have to look further.

A poke in the eye for Republicans too

So I complained about culturally chauvinistic Democrats yesterday, I suppose I had better take a poke at Republicans too.

Ever notice how Democrats seem to get politicians that do what they like, but Republicans never do? The average Republican out there is just an average guy or gal. But Republican pols might as well be Democrats for all they do what Republican voters want.

Did voters beg their leaders to spend money like water over the last 7 years? But Republican pols stepped up to the plate to give us exactly what we didn't ask for.

I had low hopes for GWB, and had them fulfilled in spades. He and the whole crew of Republican leaders got what they deserved this last election season. Looking at the current crop of presidential candidates just makes me sigh.

Fred Thompson talks a good talk. I suppose that is all we can expect from our Republican presidents. Talk. The others don't even bother defending the broad range of Republican ideals.

Guiliani is a liberal. Huckabee a populist. McCain a sellout.

The only thing any of them has going for him is the amazingly low caliber of the Democratic field this year.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What works in New York

A thing that I don't like about some Democrats is that they seem to have no sensitivity to people who are different from themselves. As an example, take gun control. Democrats seem to want to put the types of controls common to large cities controlled by Democrats into place across the country.

Now, gun control may be fine for New York or Chicago, where the people average a standard deviation lower than rural folk on intelligence tests (I made that up, but I suspect it to be true) and where nearly half of high school students fail to graduate. But should the same laws be enforced against people from small town North Dakota, where nearly every kid succeeds in graduating, crime is practically non-existent, and the only cop may be a deputy sheriff stationed 40 miles away?

It may be that the citizens of Chicago are so badly self-controlled that the only option is to disarm them as completely as possible. But crime is so rare in the town I live in that a single assault last spring is still being discussed. All the guns around here don't seem to cause the trouble they do in Chicago.

But the Democrats of this state, year after year, come up with gun control bills that would replicate throughout the state the same laws that are in place in Chicago.

Well, we are not Chicago people. We don't live like that. We don't think like that. And we don't like it when people different from ourselves, with no empathy, ignorant of how we live, try to force us to be just like them.

Live and let live, eh? Be tolerant of those different from yourself. Pass all the laws you like in your own town, but keep your hands to yourself. Don't try to tell your neighbor how to live his life.

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