Leo DiCaprio: as hot as Varones always said

I'm kidding, of course--Varones got over that crush not long after "Titanic." But this much is true: the one-time Prince of Pretty is picking fine projects and giving superb performances.

Exhibit A: "Blood Diamond," which I just spent my New Year's Eve watching. I didn't even get to make out with the 64-year-old usher at midnight (not for lack of trying, mind you--there was a long line), and still I chalk this up to one of the better ways I've spent a New Year's. See the movie, experience the horrors and thrills, and be inspired to stop buying silly rocks to put on your fingers, you dumb American pigs.

Happy New Year!

Hollywood originality

At the movies last night, I saw a preview of a record-setting movie. The eighth remake of the same friggin' movie.

It's a heartwarming story about tough kids in a rough school, and the teacher who cares enough to make a difference.

This time they got Hilary Swank to take the role. She'll go down in the proud tradition of Michelle Pfeiffer, Edward James Olmos, Lou Diamond-Phillips (whose wife was so embarrassed by his role selection that she left him and went lesbo with Melissa Etheridge), Morgan Freeman, Mr. Chips, and a few others I can't remember right now.

Who the hell do they expect to watch this? I, like most other Americans, have seen one or two of the above-mentioned remakes, and could never be swindled into watching it yet again. What, are there legions of obsessive high school teachers sworn to watch every hero-teacher movie that Hollywood pukes out?

Report card

Time for the year-end report card on financial recommendations. It was a good year over all.

First, the market picks. I said repeatedly to buy stocks and gold, and avoid bonds, and that advice paid off. Specifically, on 6/30/05, I said stocks were going higher. They have done so -- about 23% since then. On 3/10/06, I said to avoid bonds. Ten-year rates were at 4.76% then, and are now 4.71%, so bonds would have maintained their value while paying the same interest as a money market fund. There were several reiterations of the stocks/gold/anti-bond theme over the year.

Now for specific stock recommendations:
Rec date Ticker Rec price 12/31/2006 Return
12/22/2005 GLD 50.14 63.21 26%
1/10/2006 WMT 45.86 46.18 1%
3/25/2006 NOOF 7.75 9.61 24%
5/6/2006 SLV 139.95 128.64 -8%
5/20/2006 AMZN 33.94 39.46 16%
6/20/2006 SLV 102.86 128.64 25%

I cashed out of NOOF in early April. If you did too, that would really be a 10% gain in a couple weeks rather than a 24% gain over the year.

My one option recommendation was a loser. I bet that Amazon would stay in the 32 - 39 range in November, and it rocketed to 42.50 (I have repaired that trade by buying back the Nov 37.50 and selling a Jan 40. If Amazon is well above 40 in January, I'll let the stock get called away. If not, I'll have an 0.80 profit on the option trades overall).

I'm sticking with Amazon, Wal-Mart, silver, and gold. Wal-Mart may have a tough year if we have a recession from the housing bubble hangover. If it does, I'll buy more. It's a three-, five-, or ten-year stock for me. Amazon is much more speculative, but I'd like to hold on to it for the long term too. And silver and gold -- well, I'll be trimming my position at much higher prices in a few years. The Fed is going to create inflation to bail out the housing bubble, and that will be good for all things commodity. I'm still bullish on the stock market for the same reason. The Fed won't allow the idiot American consumer/speculator to face the consequences yet.

As for other predictions, I was the first I'm aware to definitively state that Rick Santorum would lose re-election. I also correctly predicted the allegedly neck-and-neck Bilbray-Busby California Congressional race. I did not predict the Democratic landslide, though, and even thought that George "Macaca" Allen would keep his Senate seat.

If I'm missing any bad calls, please let me know. You know how the mind tends to recall favorable things more than unfavorable... and the archives can be a treasure trove of embarrassment.



Don't bother seeing Babel. It's moderately interesting, but tediously slow. This review headline has it right:
Babel Review: ‘Crash 2: Now It’s Global…And Longer…And Boring’
Crash was much better, as are some of Alejandro González Iñárritu's other movies, like Amores Perros and 21 Grams.

Skip Babel. Rent Amores Perros instead. It's also a bit slow, but much more original and interesting.

While we're on the subject of long, slow movies, I also saw The Good Shepherd. It's worth it.

The Full Monty

Here's the Complete and Unabridged Unauthorized Saddam Hanging Video.

Don't blame me if it's too grisly for you. I'm just telling you where it is. Whether to watch it is up to you.

A Warrior Reincarnate


Reunited -- and it feels so good!

Iraqi work ethic

He's not only a brutal murderer; he's also a lazy bastard.

Most people would do it in minutes.

New media source: the media

Fun with the intellectual left in San Francisco

A while back, Scrappleface did a joke about Nancy Pelosi belittling the victims of Hurricane Katrina as lazy, stupid losers waiting for government handouts.

Funny enough. But the editor of the San Francisco Bay View didn't get the joke, and forwarded the story to an e-mail list of Katrina victims who were traumatized by Pelosi's cruel attitude:
An excerpt from your story had been sent to me, and I forwarded it to this list, which is read by Katrina survivors and people who want to support them. I had thought the excerpt was authentic until just now, when I read the full story on your website and detected that the entire website is satire. I might not have been fooled (assuming the story IS satire) if I didn’t know Pelosi. But I do. I live in her district and know her as extremely cold and callous, often blaming the victim - just the way you portrayed her.

If your story is satire, please tell that to the people on this list. As you can see, your story has caused them immeasurable pain.

Scrappleface took the opportunity not only to publicly humiliate the dim-witted editor, Mary Ratcliff, who can be mocked at editor@sfbayview.com, but also to give her a civics lesson.


Bubble tracker

This is pretty cool. Track housing list prices and inventories in your area over time.

Frisco hasn't popped yet, but has definitely plateaud.

Weekend TV

I hope this is televised!

Saddam to be hanged by Sunday:
Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, sentenced to death for his role in 148 killings in 1982, will have his sentence carried out by Sunday, NBC News reported Thursday. According to a U.S. military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity, Saddam will be hanged before the start of the Eid religious holiday, which begins at sundown Saturday.
Comcast, if you're listening, this is a prime pay-per-view opportunity. I still feel ripped off from Tyson-Holyfield, but if you give me this, I'll forgive you.

Jackass Number Two on DVD

I got it last night. Can't believe I waited so long. It's great, just as the first one was.


Mmmmmm.... housing crash

In today's WSJ: Renters gloat over housing slump.
Among all the defiant renters, few roar louder than Mr. Killelea, who pays $2,350 a month to rent a snug, two-bedroom craftsman house near Stanford University in Menlo Park, Calif. He figures it would cost him $7,000 a month in mortgage payments and taxes if he owned it.

Wine bargain

For those of you near a Beverages & More, there's a sale on a wine from a Chilean vineyard that I've visited.

It's called Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reserva. It's a $17 cabernet on a 2-for-1 sale. It's a hell of a wine for $8.50. Grab a case. Sale ends January 1.


Bad news for Old Zeke

Harper's Index:
33 -- Percentage by which a man's chances of being gay increase for every older brother he has.


Economists: Christmas is stupid

From today's WSJ:
Given the fanfare and billions of dollars in spending it generates, you might think Christmas is the best thing to happen to the economy all year. But some economists say we would be better off without it.

In the cold, hard analysis of the dismal science, Christmas is a highly inefficient way of connecting consumers with goods. Squeezing a big chunk of people's spending into a year-end frenzy of gift-buying generates an abundance of ill-considered presents -- millions of unwanted ties, picture frames and toe socks that, had they found the right owners, could have brought a lot more satisfaction.

Economists call that foregone benefit the holiday's "deadweight loss."

"The economy is better off" if fewer gifts are given, says Tyler Cowen, a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., who riffs on economic topics in a popular Web log, or blog, called Marginal Revolution. "Most gifts are not enjoyed much anyway."
I'll disagree. Christmas means buying stupid shit for other people that they don't need. Without Christmas, American consumers would just buy stupid shit for themselves that they don't need. As long as we're becoming a nation of debtors buying stupid shit that nobody needs, we might as well generate goodwill by giving to others.


Susette Kelo vents

Susette Kelo, victim of eminent domain, sent this Christmas card to the local politicians who took her home:
Here is my house that you did take
From me to you, this spell I make
Your houses, your homes
Your family, your friends
May they live in misery
That never ends
I curse you all
May you rot in hell
To each of you
I send this spell
For the rest of your lives
I wish you ill
I send this now
By the power of will

So she's not a poet. It's the thought that counts, and I second that emotion.

Thanks to Mark S. (a defender of the Kelo ruling on federalist principles, though not, I hope, a supporter of politicians taking people's homes for the benefit of big developers) for sending this.

Holiday reading

Bill Fleckenstein is on vacation, but he's opened up free access to his archives.

User name: free
Password: free


United 93 on DVD

I didn't watch United 93 when it came out in the Spring.

I didn't see it, because I didn't want to think about what those passengers went through.

It's on DVD now, and I just watched it via Netflix. I hope that others who are reluctant will watch it as well.

It's a great film about real American heroes. The film is both meticulously researched and riveting. The filmmakers not only studied the historical facts and interviewed numerous participants and family members, but even had many FAA and NORAD personnel portray themselves in the film.

It is educational, enlightening, and moving. See it now.

Worst way to go

3 aboard plane that crashed into sewage tank:
A salvage crew today is expected to lift the remains of a small plane that crashed into a massive raw sewage tank in Gilroy so that coroner's officials can remove the three bodies inside the crumpled aircraft...

On Tuesday, workers drained raw sewage from the 600,000-gallon tank to expose the plane, which had one wing sheared completely off, apparently from hitting a concrete divider within the tank.

After the plane was exposed at the bottom of the 20-foot tank, the surface was deemed too slippery and dangerous to safely remove the bodies, Svardal said.

I just hope they died on impact and didn't drown slowly...


San Francisco logic

San Francisco cops arrest a lot of black people for felonies.

Obvious conclusion: SFPD is racist!

Freaky Sunday

Welcome to Bizarro World. After years of runaway spending from a Republican Congress, the Democrats may be the party to restore fiscal restraint:
Republican leaders left behind just enough spending authority to keep the government operating through mid-February, less than halfway through the 2007 fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Democrats have signaled that when they take control of Congress in January they will extend that funding authority for the remainder of the year based largely on the previous year's spending levels, which will result in many cuts in programs.

The Democrats also will do something that is certain to anger many lawmakers but cheer critics of excessive government spending: They will wipe out thousands of lawmakers' pet projects, or earmarks, that have been a source of great controversy on Capitol Hill. In the past, lawmakers have peppered individual spending bills with earmarks benefiting special interests. But the funding resolution the Democrats intend to pass in lieu of spending bills will be devoid of earmarks.

Among the casualties will be $3 million for AIDS and homelessness programs in San Francisco pushed by House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and $3 million to establish the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York, pushed by the center's namesake, the Democrats' incoming House Ways and Means Committee chairman.

I'll believe it when I see it. But they're at least talking a good game so far.


9/11 Truth Revealed!

We are a nation with millions of brilliant minds. Scientists, engineers, researchers.

And yet, until now, no one thought to build a chicken wire model to prove that airplanes could not possibly bring down the World Trade Center.

News of the obvious

Vegetarians are more intelligent, says study.

Next week's study: people who don't lick electric sockets are more intelligent than those that do.

Vegetarianism is the conscious choice of those who pay attention and understand the environmental and animal welfare consequences of the meat industry. Eating meat is the default behavior of those who either don't know or don't care.


This one time at band camp... I molested your dog

Actress Natasha Lyonne, the star of "American Pie" accused of threatening to sexually molest a dog, turned herself in at a New York court on Friday.

A bench warrant was issued for her arrest in January after Lyonne, who has also appeared in "Blade," and "Scary Movie 2," missed four court hearings.

The 27-year-old faced a number of charges including criminal mischief, harassment and trespassing after accusations she threatened to sexually molest her former neighbor's dog and ripped a mirror off the wall during a 2004 argument.

OK, so it wasn't the band camp girl, but it's still pretty funny.

Happy Birthday

Happy 215th birthday to the Bill of Rights!

Does anybody remember freedom? 4 out of 9 Supreme Court Justices do! One more and we are set!

HT: Ang.

Riverside city official: Stop the music! She's a Jew!

At a Riverside, California holiday show, a high school choir was ordered to stop singing because a city official realized that Olympic skater Sasha Cohen, star of the show, was a Jew!

Stop the music! She's a Jew! Jews melt when they hear Christmas carols!

The right thing to do

Congratulations to New Jersey, which just passed a civil union law. As I've been saying for quite some time, this is the right way to approach the "gay marriage" issue.

Civil unions across the country are inevitable. It's just a matter of time. Twenty or thirty years from now, this will look like a small-scale repeat of the civil rights movement, and history will frown on those opposed to gay rights.


Will Ferrell blows Hollywood's powerful

Michael Eisner. 90-year-old Sumner Redstone. The Weinstein brothers -- both at the same time while David Geffen looked on.

Will Ferrell blows them all. And it's paid off handsomely for him.

How else could you explain how an unfunny, middle-aged loser could suddenly find himself the star of blockbuster comedies like Talladega Nights, Anchorman, and Elf?

I saw Talladega Nights last night. Good movie. But who the hell let Will Ferrell in it? The story was funny. The surrounding characters were hilarious. But Will Ferrell was his usual, boring self, a hardly noticed void in the middle of a funny movie. He's still the same unfunny guy he was years ago in those stupid cheerleader skits on Saturday Night Live (which he obviously blew Lorne Michaels to get on).

Why does Will Ferrell get Talladega Nights while David Spade gets Joe Dirt? Spade needs to break out the knee pads, obviously. Put Spade in Talladega Nights and it would have been the exact same movie -- maybe better.

Amazing the scripts you can get, the supporting casts you can get, the producers and directors you can get, and the marketing budgets you can get. All for a little knob polishing.

Health officials support genital mutilation

National Institutes of Health officials say circumcision reduces the risk of HIV transmission.

You know what? Removing the penis entirely lowers the risk even more.

Circumcision is a radical prevention for a non-existent problem. When was the last time you heard of any male in America getting HIV through heterosexual sex? Sure, it could happen, but you could be struck by lightning while holding a winning lottery ticket, too.


Mmmmmm.... libertarians

The Republicans lost because they pissed off libertarians?
In the past, our research shows, most libertarians voted Republican—72 percent for George W. Bush in 2000, for instance, with only 20 percent for Al Gore, and 70 percent for Republican congressional candidates in 2002. But in 2004, presumably turned off by war, wiretapping, and welfare-state spending sprees, they shifted sharply toward the Democrats. John F. Kerry got 38 percent of the libertarian vote. That was a dramatic swing that Republican strategists should have noticed. But somehow the libertarian vote has remained hidden in plain sight.

This year we commissioned a nationwide post-election survey of 1013 voters from Zogby International. We again found that 15 percent of the voters held libertarian views. We also found a further swing of libertarians away from Republican candidates. In 2006, libertarians voted 59-36 for Republican congressional candidates—a 24-point swing from the 2002 mid-term election. To put this in perspective, front-page stories since the election have reported the dramatic 7-point shift of white conservative evangelicals away from the Republicans. The libertarian vote is about the same size as the religious right vote measured in exit polls, and it is subject to swings more than three times as large.

Sounds about right. I voted for the douche bag in '04 (though I regret it), and I'm glad the corrupt, big-government Republicans lost in '06.

Read the whole thing. If the Dems restrain their tax-and-spend instincts, they may claim the libertarian vote -- and a national majority -- for years.


Borat update

Borat 1, frat boys 0.

You signed the release, boys. Deal with it.

The difference

The difference between Bush and Clinton?

Bush eavesdrops on terrorists plotting mass murder. Clinton eavesdropped on Princess Di planning her dating schedule.

It's the meat, stupid.

You've heard it here before. You can't be a meat-eating environmentalist and Al Gore, meat-eating hypocrite.

Now the U.N. spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to discover what you already knew: meat is worse for the environment than cars or planes.
Meet the world's top destroyer of the environment. It is not the car, or the plane,or even George Bush: it is the cow.

A United Nations report has identified the world's rapidly growing herds of cattle as the greatest threat to the climate, forests and wildlife. And they are blamed for a host of other environmental crimes, from acid rain to the introduction of alien species, from producing deserts to creating dead zones in the oceans, from poisoning rivers and drinking water to destroying coral reefs.

The 400-page report by the Food and Agricultural Organisation, entitled Livestock's Long Shadow, also surveys the damage done by sheep, chickens, pigs and goats. But in almost every case, the world's 1.5 billion cattle are most to blame. Livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.
Another steak, Al?


Tom Coburn for King

Historians say that some of George Washington's officers were so impressed with him that they proposed to make him king of the new United States of America. That's how I feel about Senator Tom Coburn right now. He is a solitary voice of integrity and fiscal discipline in a parliament of whores.

I've noted Coburn's stands against pork many times before. Today I noticed what Coburn has done with his Senate web site. He uses it to expose the U.N. wasting U.S. taxpayer dollars to promote itself and to give the Secretary General a $4.3 million apartment upgrade. And what's that on the right side of the page? A banner for Porkbusters, the "grassroots Internet movement whose members have banded together to demand an end to the Congressional spending circus in Washington." This is not business as usual in the clubby, collegial Senate.

If Ted Stevens were dead, he'd turn over in his grave.


Tort reform, Texas style

Class action lawyer Bill Lerach has been the scourge of small companies for years. When a stock drops, Lerach rounds up shareholders to file suit against the company. Companies often settle these nuisance lawsuits to avoid long and expensive legal hassles. Generally, the lawyers get rich and the "plaintiffs" get a pittance.

Until now. Federal Judge Melinda Harmon (Bush 41 - Texas) is making Lerach pay the defendants' legal costs in a meritless lawsuit ($):
One reason the tort bar files so many frivolous lawsuits is that there have been very few penalties for its legal abuses. So congratulations are due to a Texas judge who last week ordered class-action kingpin Bill Lerach to pay up for his latest wretched excess.

Federal Judge Melinda Harmon's good deed came at the end of a high-profile suit against Alliance Capital. She dismissed the case in summary fashion and invoked a little-used legal rule that requires the Lerach firm to pay Alliance's legal fees. While the plaintiffs might have had cause for filing the suit, the judge said, by the end of discovery it was clear "the continuance of the claim against Alliance was at that point without merit" and so the Lerach firm must pay for dragging Alliance past that point.

"Loser pays" is standard practice in Britain. It helps discourage frivolous lawsuits. We should use it more often here.


Fancy places

Sunday Borat Update, Part II

More victims of Borat:
A TV crew from Kazakhstan's Channel 31 was in Columbus on Nov. 6 and 7 to make a real documentary on the U.S. political system, but the crew got a wary reception from press secretaries who feared public skewering by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, star of the mockumentary "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."

It didn't help that the Kazakh cameraman's first name was "Bolat," a name similar to Cohen's alias...

When the real central Asian TV crew showed up in Ohio, press secretaries for the state's Republican and Democratic parties were suspicious enough to verify their credentials with the U.S. State Department.

"They were really adamant that they were not Borat," said Ohio Democratic Party press secretary Randy Borntrager, adding that the film crew told him that "Borat" "is giving Kazakhstan a bad name."

State Department officials who supervised the TV crew's two-week multistate trip say they got apprehensive phone calls wherever the real Kazakhs went. Even the FBI called them to make sure the crew was legitimate.

Sunday Borat update, Part I

Borat is one of the greatest movies of all time. Sacha Baron Cohen is one of the greatest comedians of all time.

But this constantly repeated media theme about Borat as social commentary that reveals the dark truths about Americans is overblown. On the Arizona bar patrons that gleefully sang along to "Throw the Jew Down the Well":
A very different picture, though, emerged from a conversation with the treasurer of the company that owns the bar, Carol Pierce, who said that she herself is Jewish. Pierce could be seen during the segment on HBO, laughing heartily behind her goateed husband.

In explaining her light-hearted take on Borat, she pointed out that what television viewers saw was only a few minutes of the two-and-a-half-hour performance that Borat gave when he came to Tucson, Ariz., in April. The rest of Borat’s performance, in which he sang about throwing his wife and family down the well, made it perfectly clear to Pierce that the man performing was a comedian in disguise — who was very funny.

HT: Karol.

WSJ to readers: You illiterate losers!

The Wall Street Journal enjoys running articles that let you know whether you're literate or not. Here are two easy ways to test yourself:

#1. WSJ 11/7/06
"Anthropologist Clifford Geertz of the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton passed away last week. His name will be generally -- if often hazily -- familiar to literate people who will, however, be unlikely to appreciate the considerable impact he had on our intellectual world."
#2 WSJ 11/21/06:
"Even the most reasonably literate American may find it difficult to name more than three of the past chief justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. But of those three, one of them will almost certainly be Roger Brooke Taney..."
I'm illiterate on Count 1. That name is not generally, nor hazily, familiar. But the music there... it was hauntingly familiar.

On Count 2, I'll name John Marshall, William Howard Taft, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, and William Rehnquist. That's five. That makes me The Most Reasonably Literate American in the Wall Street Journal's eyes. Sorry George Will, William F. Buckley, Noam Chomsky, et. al. You are all distant seconds.

But Roger Brooke Taney? Who the &*^# is that???

Even the most illiterate Wall Street Journal reviewer of books on American history should be able to name Marshall, Warren, Burger, and Rehnquist. If they keep hiring these illiterate hacks, I might have to cancel my subscription.

HT: Old Zeke, who adds that the use of the phrase "the most reasonably literate American" is, in itself, evidence of minimal literacy.


Free health care for illegal aliens

Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed state health care coverage for all Californians. "Californians," under Schwarzenegger's definition, does not mean legal residents of the state of California. It means free health care for anyone who decides to sneak across the border.

Fortunately, the Republican legislative minority is united against this dumb idea, and probably has enough Constitutional power to stop it:
"California is not responsible for paying for the medical care of the undocumented -- people who are here illegally, period," said Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks (Sacramento County). "We are not the health maintenance organization for Mexico."

Schwarzenegger has not yet revealed details of his health care initiative, and there is no indication whether he will propose spending tax money to extend care to undocumented immigrants.

But the governor said Sunday on a national TV news program that his goal was to extend coverage to all 6.7 million Californians who are without health insurance -- a figure that includes an estimated 1.6 million undocumented immigrants, according to figures from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

A spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger would not comment Wednesday directly on the warnings from GOP lawmakers. But Kim Belshé, the governor's secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a statement that debate over health care reform needs to include undocumented immigrants.

Because, you know, we're just not attracting enough illegal aliens with free schools, free emergency services, and automatic citizenship for their babies.


Google ads

So I heard Google will send more traffic if you put Google ads on your web site. So I put a little teeny one up top.

Google assigns ads based on the content of the blog. So far, I get ads for drug rehab and anti-drug school programs. Heh, as they say.

Click away. They are amusing and I get paid a fraction of a penny. And some of you derelicts could use a stint in rehab.

Frist realizes what everyone else already knew

Bill Frist, who was Put On Notice here in August, reviews his train wreck of a political career and decides not to run for President.

Tax Tips for Tykes

If you have stocks or mutual funds in investment accounts for your children, don’t let December pass without taking the opportunity to step up the cost basis of the investments.

Every year, a child is allowed $800 of investment income without having to file or pay taxes. This includes interest, dividends, and capital gains. So if you’ve got 100 shares of Disney worth $3200 in Timmy’s account that you bought a few years ago for $2400, Timmy can take the gains without paying taxes (assuming no other investment income). He just needs to sell the stock and then immediately buy it back.

Why do this? Because when Timmy eventually needs the money, he’ll pay taxes only on the gains from the new, higher cost basis – instead of on the gains all the way from the original $2400 to whatever Disney will be worth in ten, twenty, or thirty years. Step up $800 every year, and Timmy’s taxes will be much lower when he eventually cashes out.

The same principle applies to mutual funds. Little Lisa has a no-load fund that has appreciated? Sell enough of it to reap $800 worth of capital gains, and buy it back immediately or switch into a similar fund (or better yet, an index fund or ETF!).

It may even be worth generating more than $800 of gains. Children’s investment income between $800 and $1600 is taxed at the child’s rate, which will typically be very low and almost certainly lower than the parents’ tax rate.

This doesn’t apply to Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs, often called Education IRAs by morons), because they are not taxable accounts.

Even if Timmy doesn’t yet have investments with gains to take, you can take advantage of this step-up. Open an account for Timmy, then transfer some of your own appreciated stock or mutual fund to his account, and sell and re-buy it there.

Disclaimer: The W.C. Varones Blog is not a CPA or a tax adviser. Always consult your own tax professional.


Bernanke talks like a man

Will he walk like a man?

Fed Chairman Bernanke said core inflation is still "uncomfortably high" and warned it would be "especially troublesome" if inflation doesn't moderate as he and other officials expect. While Bernanke's forecast remains for a moderation in economic activity and inflation in coming months, his comments suggest theFed isn't as prepared to lower rates as financial markets expect.
I still think Bernanke will buckle and try to bail out the housing market. But I would have great respect for the man if he surprised me and actually fought inflation.

The true story of Melquiades Estrada

While perusing the Drug War Victims web site, I came across this story:
On May 20, 1997, Esequiel Hernandez, Jr. was herding his family's goats 100 yards from his home on the US-Mexican border in Redford, Texas, as he did every day. Six days before, he had turned 18 years old.

Unknown to Esequiel or any of the other residents of Redford, a group of four Marines led by 22-year old Corporal Clemente Banuelos had been encamped just outside the small village along the Rio Grande River for three days. After watering his small flock of goats in the river, Esequiel started on his way back home when the Marines began stalking him from a distance of 200 yards.

The four camouflaged Marines were outfitted with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment and weapons. Esequiel carried an antique .22 caliber rifle -- a pre-World War I, single shot rifle to keep wild dogs and rattlesnakes away from his goats. The autopsy showed that Esequiel was facing away from the Marines when he was shot. He probably never knew the Marines were watching him from 200 yards away.

This sounds like it was the inspiration for the excellent Tommy Lee Jones movie, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Put it at the top of your Netflix list if you haven't seen it yet.


War on Drugs Update

Last week, I linked the story about the 92-year-old sharpshooting granny who went down in a blaze of glory defending her home against cops kicking her door down in a no-knock raid. The cops claimed they had bought drugs at the house earlier that day.

Now the police informant says he didn't buy drugs at the house, and the police instructed him to lie.
The confidential informant on whose word Atlanta police raided the house of an 88-year-old woman is now saying he never purchased drugs from her house and was told by police to lie and say he did.

Chief Richard Pennington, in a press conference Monday evening, said his department learned two days ago that the informant — who has been used reliably in the past by the narcotics unit -- denied providing information to officers about a drug deal at 933 Neal Street in northwest Atlanta.

"The informant said he had no knowledge of going into that house and purchasing drugs," Pennington said. "We don't know if he's telling the truth."

The search warrant used by Atlanta police to raid the house says that a confidential informant had bought crack cocaine at the residence, using $50 in city funds, several hours before the raid.

In the document, officers said that the informant told them the house had surveillance cameras that the suspected drug dealer, called "Sam," monitored.

Pennington on Monday evening said the informant told the Internal Affairs Unit hat he did not tell officers that the house had surveillance equipment, and that he was asked to lie.

The Chief still maintained that "Sam," the alleged drug dealer, "actually exists."

The informant may have been lying then. He may be lying now. Either way, some police authorities need to be fired, if not imprisoned. Sending teams of police to kick down the doors of elderly citizens based on the statements of criminals and drug addicts is never a good idea.


Consumer Nation

As the holidays roll around again, and we hear about "Black Friday," the busiest shopping day of the year, and we hear radio ads for furniture and electronics with easy credit and no payments until next year, I am again amazed at the magnitude and breadth of America's consumer culture.

America now has a zero or even negative savings rate. The average American spends as much or more than he makes, hoping that home prices will keep rising so rapidly that he'll never actually have to work to pay off the debt.

In the 1700's, people sold themselves into indentured servitude to make a new life in the New World. Now people sell themselves into indentured servitude for a new stereo. Every gadget you buy today means hours, days, weeks, or months more that you'll be working for the man instead of enjoying retirement.

As a rabid capitalist, I believe that free markets are by far the most efficient, most rational, and most moral way for people to organize their economic behavior. But watching people sell themselves into debt for the fleeting high of buying the latest hot car, plasma TV, or clothing seriously challenges those beliefs. I think I know how God feels when he gives people free will and then watches them choose to use it having their colons perforated by horses.

Intellectually, I'm a capitalist and free-marketer. But my heart lies with the smelly hippies at Adbusters. Free markets would work better if people used them responsibly.

So go ahead and run up your credit cards buying what they tell you to buy on TV. Make no payments until June 2007!!! I have stock in Amazon and Wal-Mart and other retailers, manufacturers, and credit card providers, so you're putting money in my pocket. But I don't respect you for it.


Thanksgiving, Oakland style

Damn it, Grandpa, I said PASS THE F*&%ING TURKEY!!!

Three people were killed and another wounded when a North Oakland holiday get-together turned deadly Thursday afternoon. Two men were taken into custody in connection with the shooting.

There were nine people, including a child, in the third-floor apartment at 5321 Telegraph Ave. when gunfire broke out shortly before 3 p.m. One man and two women were killed and another man wounded in the gunfire, while another man suffered a broken back when he leaped from a third-floor window to escape the bullets.

Oakland police described the incident as a family dispute gone horribly wrong.


UC researchers: Calif. housing bubble will take years to unwind

Well, duh. That's what I've been saying for more than a year.
It may take the California housing market three years to recover from its downturn because homes have simply gotten too expensive for most buyers, whose salaries haven't risen nearly as fast as housing prices, an economist said.

The median price of an existing home in California will fall 4.8 percent next year and 2.9 percent the year after, Ken Rosen, chairman of the Fisher Center for Real and Urban Economics at UC Berkeley, said Monday during a presentation at the center's annual real estate and economics symposium.

That would translate into a drop of nearly $30,000 in the price of a Bay Area home in 2007, based on numbers released last week by the DataQuick real estate information service, which found that that the median price of a home in the region was $614,000 in October.

"This is not a one-year event and this is not a six-month event," Rosen said. "It's going to take three or four years for incomes to catch up to housing prices."
I'd be surprised if Bay Area median prices didn't drop a lot more than the 4.8% and 2.9% predicted for California the next two years.

We are in the greatest financial bubble in the history of the world, deliberately created by Alan Greenspan to bail out the tech stock bubble. The tech stock bubble didn't end with a single-digit pullback, and neither will this one. Housing bubbles just burst slower than stock market bubbles. Be patient.


Department of Train Wrecks

You've probably heard about Seinfeld's Kramer's racist tirade against hecklers at a comedy club.

If you're like me, though, you want to see it.

Fox O.J.-palooza canceled

Rupert is sorry ($):
News Corp. canceled publication of O.J. Simpson's book "If I Did It" and the Fox television network broadcast special, with Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch apologizing for the project. A dozen Fox affiliates had already said they would not air the two-part sweeps month special.

No word on what this means for the rest of the "If I Did It" series:
* If I'd Faked an Injury to Get Sent Home From Vietnam by John F. Kerry
* If I'd Quashed an Investigation into a Woman's Drowning Death by Ted Kennedy
* If I'd Sexually Harassed Paula Jones by Bill Clinton


San Francisco Pride

Nothing says "loser" like "I still support Douche Bag and Breck Girl more than two years after the election."


Today's Public Service Announcement: Boys Beware!

One never knows when a homosexual is about.

HT: Ace.

Legal news

Retired FBI Senior Special Agent in Charge Ted Gunderson has an affidavit you'll want to read:

a. The AFFIANT has been the recipient of surreptitious entries into his Las Vegas , Nevada and Los Angeles dwelling and also his motor vehicle.

b. AFFIANT has also been placed under surveillance for years by possibly government, groups and individuals. The surveillance is performed by individuals in vehicles or in helicopters or in fixed wing helicopters or on foot.

c. AFFIANT has received threatening telephone calls, threatening himself. AFFIANT's telephone has been tapped continuously for many years.

d. Based upon knowledge, information and belief, AFFIANT states AFFIANT's TV in his home in Las Vegas is used as a surveillance device with both audio and video capabilities.

e. There exists an active Federal Government Disinformation Program that was instituted for the purpose of discrediting AFFIANT and others who report the truth about government and the Satanic Movement in America .

f. There have been several invasions of AFFIANT's home computer by unidentified sources through the telephone lines.

g. Most recently AFFIANT has learned from informed sources that there is a contract on his life. According to these informed sources, the independent contractor is a Satanist that is a member of a Satanic cult known as Bohemian Grove (aka Coven) located in Washington, D. C. This Satanic cult wishes AFFIANT dead, because AFFIANT has evidence of their Satanic ritual abuse and the cults' involvement with the 9-11 attack, including the FBI's foreknowledge of the 9-11 terrorist attack and the fact that the FBI did nothing to prevent the attack.

h. AFFIANT has also written strong critical letters to the United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Home Security Director Tom Ridge regarding the fact that the FBI had foreknowledge 6 months in advance of the 9-11 terrorists' attacks.

i. One of AFFIANT's clients from Los Angeles has also been the recipient of harassment both in Los Angeles and in his travels to New York City within the past four weeks.

A powerful Satanist cabal in Washington DC? How did I miss this news until now?

The Empire Strikes Back

Wal-Mart is finally defending itself against hypocritical politicians. And doing it well:
Just like the millions of Americans who turn to their neighborhood Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) for their holiday shopping needs, Wal-Mart announced today that former Sen. John Edwards is seeking to be one of the first to get a Sony PlayStation3, one of the most coveted holiday gift items this Christmas season.

Yesterday, a staff person for former Sen. Edwards contacted a Wal-Mart electronics manager in Raleigh, North Carolina to obtain a Sony PlayStation3 on behalf of the Senator’s family. Later that night, Sen. Edwards reportedly re-told a homespun story to participants of a United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union-sponsored call about how his son had chided a fellow student for purchasing shoes at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart welcomes Sen. Edwards to visit his local Wal-Mart store and explore the extensive line of home electronics as well the wide array of apparel for men and boys.

The Company noted the PlayStation3 is an extremely popular item this Christmas season, and while the rest of America’s working families are waiting patiently in line, Senator Edwards wants to cut to the front. While, we cannot guarantee that Sen. Edwards will be among one of the first to obtain a PlayStation3, we are certain Sen. Edwards will be able to find great gifts for everyone on his Christmas list – many at Wal-Mart’s “roll-back prices.”
Zeke pointed out the grammatical errors and typos. But I don't think they detract from the story. It goes to show that even 3rd grade dropouts who can't write can be elevated to important PR positions at Wal-Mart if they have a little creative flair. This is an awesome press release.


Good cops, bad cops

I got back from Las Vegas yesterday to discover two law enforcement items: one a letter from the City of Albuquerque, the other an email from Varones about the campus police at my alma mater.

First the good cops... As much as I dislike the Orwellian taste of rampant camera installation, I was busted running a red light, and damned if they aren't fair about it. You can go to a website and watch a video of yourself gunning it through the red ("yup, that's me"), the fine is a reasonable $100, and they don't add points to your driving record. Another satisfied customer.

And then there's the case of UCLA--employer of belligerent, filthy pigs, with whom I had my own scuffles in 1999-2000. Back then, they unleashed a barrage of rubber bullets on innocent bystanders at the end-of-exam-period "Midnight Yell" festivities/riots, and crashed into the apartment of yours truly over a wee bit of water-balloon-chuckery.

Now it seems they've turned to tazing students who forget to bring their ID cards to the library. If you can stomach a disgusting use of force, watch the video here.

One difference between human law enforcement and cameras: cameras typically aren't meathead pricks on a power trip.


San Francisco gets its priorities right

Sometimes I love this city:
San Francisco's Board of Supervisors will vote today on legislation that would set nearly all crimes involving marijuana as the lowest law enforcement priority for city police. The legislation, sponsored by Supervisor Tom Ammiano, was approved Monday by a board committee with the blessing of police officials and over the complaints of some residents.

"This measure, which would legalize the unlimited growth and sales (of marijuana) on private property, will make public spitting and (leaving chewing) gum ... on the sidewalk higher priorities," said Kim Stryker, voicing opposition before the supervisors' City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee.

That's about right. Public spitting really pisses me off.


Worst TV series ever

Grey's Anatomy. It's a bunch of high school girls running around a hospital going through juvenile romantic dramas.

If I was in Guantanamo and forced to choose between waterboarding, The Dukes of Hazzard movie, and Grey's Anatomy, I'd choose The Dukes of Hazzard. Over and over and over.

All Borat, all the time

So I'm thinking about changing the name of this blog to The Borat Fan Club.

Check out the deleted scenes here while I think about it.

Worst movie ever

I'm watching The Dukes of Hazzard on HBO right now. Worst movie ever. And I'm a fan of the Dukes of Hazzard, Johnny Knoxville, and Stifler.

Badly designed rhetorical questions, #311

"They said we drink horse urine and sleep with our own kin. You say it's comedy, but how can someone laugh at that?"


Victims of Borat


True stories behind Borat:
"I don’t know what motivates Borat/Cohen to use his considerable talents to deceive and manipulate: maybe it's his way of gaining power over the childhood sting of religious animosity or the feelings of inferiority from a woman’s beating him at Scrabble," [feminist stooge Linda] Stein writes. "I only know that afterward, I am left feeling confused and sad."
UPDATE: Hah! Hah! Now the villagers are suing!
But now the villagers of this tiny, close-knit community have angrily accused the comedian of exploiting them, after discovering his new blockbuster film portrays them as a backward group of rapists, abortionists and prostitutes, who happily engage in casual incest.

... when local vice-mayor Petre Buzea was asked whether the people felt offended by Baron Cohen's film, he replied: 'They got paid so I am sure they are happy. These gipsies will even kill their own father for money.'

Surrounded by like-minded folks

Growing up in a red county in a purple state, I was about the only libertarian I'd ever heard of. At a university with a student body of more than 10,000, I joined the College Republicans and wrote for the conservative paper, because there were no libertarians that I could find.

So imagine my surprise to move to the land of leftist wackos, and find that I am surrounded by libertarians! I always made it a point to keep my politics a secret at work, because I assumed most people around me were leftists. But occasionally someone else brings up the subject, and it's amazing how often their politics are the same as mine: fiscally conservative, socially tolerant.

Maybe it's the software industry I work in, which is full of educated, well-paid, quirky individualists. But across the board -- men, women, young, old, married, single, gay, straight -- it's amazing how prevalent the libertarian philosophy is. These people don't want to be overtaxed, and they don't want the government telling them what to do in their personal lives.

Most vote Democratic, because the social conservatism of the Republicans is more threatening to them than the economic policies of the Democrats. And the last batch of Republicans was a fraud on fiscal conservative issues. But these people are potential swing voters. The Republicans should find a way to reach out to them.

Republicans who could make me vote for Hillary

I hope Hillary is not the Democratic nominee. But if she is, I might have to vote for her. That is, if her opponent is:

1) John McCain. As Melanie Morgan says, "I'll open a vein before I vote for McCain." McCain is the co-author of the McCain-Feingold Free Speech Ban. The First Amendment is sacred. Anyone who spits on the Constitution like this is unfit for office.

2) Bill Frist. Crook, idiot, nanny-state prude.

I'll expand the list if any more jerks like these two throw their hats into the ring.

Stupid is as stupid does

Let me axe you a question:

If New Zealand students can use text slang on their exams, why can't American students use ebonics?

After all, it's not as if prospective employers will care whether graduates can speak or write English.


San Francisco values

The Democrats must be serious about this "San Francisco values" theme. After all, they keep talking about "a nude erection for America."

HT: Lee Rodgers


Mmmmmm.... gold

The GDX gold miners index is up more than 4% today!

We're gonna be rich, I tell ya!


More debt!

California's voters may not like Republicans in Congress, but they spend money just like them.

More debt! That's exactly what this state needs.

On the integrity of Borat

Yeah, we knew that Pamela Anderson knew.

But in response to Old Zeke's question of a few days ago, the link implies that no one else in the film did. Which is good. And which I believe.


Fed confessions

A Fed member admits what I've been saying for years: the Fed inflation numbers are B.S.

From the Wall Street Journal ($):

When it comes to admitting error, central bankers tend to emulate Benjamin Disraeli, who famously said "never complain, never explain." So it was nothing short of astonishing last week for Richard Fisher, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, to confess in public that the Fed had blundered by keeping monetary policy too easy for too long in 2003 and 2004.

Speaking to bankers in New York, Mr. Fisher issued a mea maxima culpa that deserves wide attention: "In retrospect, the real fed funds rate turned out to be lower than what was deemed appropriate at the time and was held lower longer than it should have been." As the nearby chart shows, a Fed worried about possible "deflation" moved the overnight interest rate it charges banks in June 2003 to an extraordinarily low 1% and kept it there for another year.

Mr. Fisher blamed this mistake on "poor data" that underestimated inflation, leading "to a policy action that amplified speculative activity in the housing and other markets. Today, as anybody not from the former planet of Pluto knows, the housing market is undergoing a substantial correction and inflicting real costs to millions of homeowners across the country." In other words, the Fed itself is responsible for the current housing bust because its over-easy policy created a real estate frenzy that was bound to end once the Fed tried to regain control over inflation expectations.

So now the Fed has on its hands the biggest financial bubble in the history of the world, a bubble of its own creation. How to unwind the bubble without causing a severe recession? The Fed may ease next year as their phony inflation statistics show no inflation risk. If this scenario unfolds, you'll want to own gold.



Go see it. Funniest movie I've seen in a long time.

And if you're in the mood for a great mob movie, see The Departed.


Beyond the bounds of decency

Lest there be any confusion regarding the brokerage advertisement below, behold the latest version. What advertising agency thinks this is okay?

Monterey kayaking

I went kayaking in Monterey Bay over the weekend. The seals swim right up to the boat to check you out. You can see plenty of otters too, but they are not as interested in people.

Pics here.

Next time you're in the Monterey area, make like Celine Dion and "Take a kayak!"

A crying shame

What's the world coming to when a guy can't even get an innocent massage from a gay hooker without people thinking he's gay or something?


Varones Voters' Guide to the California Election

Here's how I'm voting. Disagree? I'm open to other ideas -- and I love a debate.

Prop 1A - Yes.
Dedicates gas tax revenue to its originally intended purpose: transportation improvement. Duh.

Prop 1B - No. Bonds to burden future generations with debt.

Prop 1C - No. Bonds to burden future generations with debt.

Prop 1D - No. Bonds to burden future generations with debt.

Prop 1E - No. Bonds to burden future generations with debt.

Prop 83 - No. GPS monitoring of sex offenders is a good idea; defining sex offenders as anyone who does anything "lewd" or "lascivious" is dangerous. Consensual sex in a public place? Hanging a B.A.? A 19-year-old having sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend? A clear line should be drawn before we tar all of these people as sex offenders for life.

Prop 84 - No. Bonds to burden future generations with debt.

Prop 85 - Yes. You can't give them an aspirin without parental approval, but you can give them an abortion without even notification? So some jerk high school jock can pressure his girlfriend into getting an abortion without talking to her parents?

Prop 86 - No. This one is tough. The evil teachers' unions are against it, the Democrats are against it. But the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. It's a huge, bad tobacco tax.

Prop 87 - No. Want to pay $5 per gallon for gas to fund a bunch of egghead bureaucrats?

Prop 88 - No. More property taxes to fund the bureaucratic and incompetent education establishment. What, $11,000 per student per year isn't enough? You really think another $500 will help these idiots teach children any better?

Prop 89 - No. Tax money to pay for political ads for politicians. Brilliant!

Prop 90 - Yes. Prevents Kelo-style eminent domain abuse.

Governor - Art Olivier. If this were even close, I'd vote for Schwarzenegger. But Angelides is such a pathetic candidate that Arnie will win in a landslide. So have some fun with your vote: vote for crack & hookers with the Libertarian Party.

Lt. Governor - Tom McClintock. This guy is awesome. He is a true fiscal conservative, rare in California politics. His opponent is jackass John Garamendi, who screwed small investors in favor of a huge French bank in the great Executive Life ripoff.

Capt. Douchebag, reporting for duty

John Kerry on Tuesday:

“I apologize to no one . . . I’m not going to give them one ounce of daylight to spread one of their lies and to play this game ever, ever again. That is a lesson I learned deep and hard,”

So deep and hard, that he apologized today.


When will the sexism end?

Trading is a man's activity...and don't you forget it.


This is just painful to watch.

Old Zeke lives in NM-1. What do you think, Zeke? Does this put NM-1 back in the red column?


Remind me not to be a donor!

From today's Wall Street Journal:

How Rusty Leonard Watches Over Donors To TV Ministries
Investment Counselor Probes Finances, Posts Alerts...

Charlie Brown in the 21st century

This is pretty funny.


Sign of the times

I just got back from a Halloween party in Albuquerque, and the friend I went with must have gotten ten comments, all completely sincere, along the lines of, "My God, that is scary."

A vampire? An axe murderer? No, no, he had on a fake beard and the garb of an Arab sheik.

Filthy Pigs

A University of Indiana graduate student, who created a "Make your own boarding pass" web application to demonstrate the absurdity of the TSA's boarding pass/ID check, is now being hounded by the FBI and by a Congressman calling for his arrest.

As usual, these morons are less concerned with the aviation security sham than with people who are courageous enough to expose it.

See his website for the story, email the brainless pigs who are pursuing him, and tell your friends.

Last minute costume ideas

Can't beat this one.


That time again

It's the last Friday of the month. You know what that means:

Get your ass to Critical Mass.

But they support the troops!

Caught on video: a moonbat asks the families of dead soldiers, "Did they go out and kill and rape and sodomize the children in front of their parents?"

This guy's obviously been watching too much John Kerry Congressional testimony.


Mmmm.... gay marriage

Today, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided:
New Jersey's Supreme Court opened the door to gay marriage Wednesday, ruling that homosexuals are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, but leaving it to lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions.

The high court gave lawmakers 180 days to rewrite marriage laws to either include same-sex couples or create a new system of civil unions for them.

Brilliant! But that's what W.C. Varones said a year and a half ago (and earlier):
As I've said before, the answer is to separate the religious institution of marriage from the state-sanctioned secular arrangement. Gays deserve equal rights under law, and churches should be free to maintain their own definitions of marriage according to their traditions and beliefs. Call it a civil union, or call it a marriage. The only difference is that the latter will agitate middle America a lot more.


Tales from the crypt

It's nice to see greedy lawyers get burned speculating on the housing bubble:

Twenty people went to an auction of new model homes yesterday looking for a bargain.

They were joined by about 80 “looky-loos.”

In the end, the potential buyers wanted too much of a good thing, and the auctioneer's hammer never fell.

Sixteen upscale homes in the Bressi Ranch development were advertised as up for auction at La Costa Resort and Spa, though 15 were offered because one had been sold before the event began.

Buyers were willing to pay about $1 million for a home listed at $1.4 million or $1.5 million, and as little as $650,000 for houses priced near $1 million.

Many bids fell in the $700,000 range.


But the owners, Model Homes Investors LLC, a group of Los Angeles-area lawyers, apparently would need about 80 percent of the asking price in order to clear their own debt with the banks holding the mortgages.

And it's nice to see that some people didn't lose their minds in the bubble:

“I just wanted to see what kind of a fool would buy these overpriced homes,” Bruce Azimi of Oceanside said.

Thanks to Todd for sending the link.



My hero

Anyone can screw a dog.

But it takes a real man to screw a pit bull .


Bush to sign fence bill grudgingly and secretly

Bush decides to throw Congressional Republicans under the bus by avoiding a base-rallying bill-signing ceremony.

Hey, if Bush can defeat enough Republicans, the new Democratic majority will give him his amnesty bill! Truly a win-win situation.


God Bless America

A truly patriotic monologue from Carlos Mencia.

Thanks to Ang.

Excellence in advertising, #381

The Daily Reckoning is an online newsletter that's one part quality writing, one part economic doom-saying, and one part shameless hawking of various financial snake oils. From yesterday's edition:
The mainstream financial press are already closing in on this story...and fast...

· BusinessWeek says Deveroux’s Secret Investment “offers exceptional growth at a fraction of the cost of blue chip stocks”...
and shortly thereafter...
In a moment, I will explain why Wall Street big shots can't get their hands on it...and that is precisely why you won't hear about it in Forbes, Barron's or BusinessWeek.
I don't know about you, but I'm sold.


Let's get this party started!

Bay housing prices fall .8 percent:
Bay Area housing prices are finally falling, declining last month for the first time in more than four years.

The median price of a home in the nine Bay Area counties slipped .8 percent to $611,000 in September from a year earlier in the nine-county region, according to the DataQuick real estate information service. That figure includes both single-family houses and condos.

A build up of inventory and an increase in the supply of low-priced condos in the East Bay dragged down prices, said John Karevoll, an analyst at DataQuick. The price of new homes fell 12.3 percent in September, which pulled down the Bay Area median.
We've only just begun....

Your tax dollars at work

Hate to tell ya, but yer tax dollars are doin' a darn good job of propaganda.

I was listening to Communist Radio (aka NPR) on the way home from work, and they did a heckuva job selling the Democrats.

They had Pelosi talking about reforming the corrupt institution of Congress, Rangel saying he wouldn't raise taxes, and Conyers saying they wouldn't look into impeachment. This is such a bunch of honest, clean-government, reform-minded do-gooders, how could anyone vote against them?

I swear to you, it was so effective I considered voting Dem.

Excellence in advertising, #153

In the middle of the television-autism story that Varones references below, I found this ad:

Update: Either they got smart, or the duration of the ad expired. Now it's for autism-inducing NPR.

Tales of poker and degradation

Zeke and I had a great weekend up in Tahoe and Reno. We started in Tahoe, playing 2-3 No Limit Hold 'Em. The friendly crowd was a few tourists and a lot of retired locals. A few of the locals were cranky old bastards, and Zeke took great pleasure in taking their money. He ended up taking more than $1000. I finished up about $50 after losing a $400 pot to a bad beat.

We headed down to Reno on Sunday and the cards were not friendly. Zeke gave up most of his Tahoe winnings, and I eked out just a few more dollars.

Reno has the stench of death. Maybe it was just that we were there on a slow weekend, but the casinos and hotels were empty, the streets were dust-blown, the median age was 60 and the median weight was 260. A nice old guy at the poker table asked Zeke to move to Reno " 'cause we need young people here." Another guy at the table said Zeke could get rich as a lawyer there, as there were 80 DUIs per month, and they averaged $2000 per DUI in lawyer's fees.

Tahoe next time. No Reno.

TV causes autism?

I believe it.

Sins of the Republicans

I bring attention to the following not because I want to gratuitously beat up on Congressional Republicans, but because if they lose (still a big if), I don't want the mainstream media to get away with making up a false history. The MSM will try to tell us that it's all about Mark Foley and Bush fatigue. It's not. If the Republicans lose, it's because they've become the Institutional Party of Government Growth that we sent them there to oppose.

From yesterday's WSJ ($):
If Republicans lose control of Congress next month, one big reason will be their record of overspending, especially on earmarks. What explains this GOP fiscal performance?

One answer comes from a new analysis by the Cato Institute on the Capitol Hill culture of spending under Republican rule. Examining hearings of 14 Congressional committees, political scientist James Payne found that 1,014 witnesses argued in favor of greater spending while only seven advocated less, an imbalance of 145 to 1. This is worse that a Cuban election.

In the same hearings, federal programs were described as "effective" or "efficient" 50 times more often than they were described as "ineffective" or "inefficient." Federal agencies were praised as "helpful" or "beneficial" in 990 instances, but they were scorned as causing "harm" or "hurt" only a dozen times. These are many of the same federal agencies that the U.S. General Accountability Office has found often can't pass the most basic financial audit.

"The problem is that advocates of spending overwhelm all aspects of Congressional communication," says Mr. Payne. Congressional hearings that are supposed to be impartial assessments of whether taxpayers get their money's worth become instead cheerleading sessions for bigger government. "No one wants to do the honest oversight of taxpayer spending," adds Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, a rare Republican exception to that rule.

In sum, Congressional hearings have degenerated into a lobbying process in which advocates sing the praises of the spending that their livelihoods depend on, while stroking the egos of the politicians as constructive philanthropists. Members of Congress begin to believe their own stacked juries. It's amazing they stopped spending at $2.7 trillion this year.

The Republicans remind me a lot of the Democrats of the early 90’s: fat, complacent, bringing home the pork. Party affiliation seems less a factor than length of time in power. Any unprincipled politician from either party will become a pork king after enough time in power. That’s why it’s important to elect people with real principles – people like Tom Coburn and Jeff Flake. They are a tiny minority of the Republican Congress, but they have the key to Republican salvation.


Little Britain

I hope you find this as funny as I do:
It has taken more than 12 months and cost about £10,000 but a council is finally on the verge of discovering the identity of a man who kept saying "baa" during a planning meeting.

After a wide-ranging investigation, Havering council, based in Romford, Essex, has prepared a 300-page report, according to the Romford Recorder newspaper.

Thanks to Best of the Web.


Off to Reno and Tahoe

I'm off to Reno and Tahoe to play a bit of poker with Old Zeke.

Have a great weekend!


As much as I chafe at Bush & Co...

...the fact remains that the left is led and spoken for by ineffectual, whiny losers, to whom nobody listens, and who, incidentally, feel the need to parade their smartness by wearing Harvard apparel well into middle age.

Today, the market has spoken.

Some French do enjoy a day's work

At least until their employer finds out and gets pissed.

Requires YouTube registration, but fairly funny video of the Disney orgy here.

UPDATE: The cowards at Google/YouTube have taken the video down, but you can still see it here, courtesy of the UK Sun.


Option trade

There's a pretty juicy option trade out there on Amazon.com:

Sell the Nov 37.50 calls for 0.80.

Sell the Nov 30 puts for 0.90.

I think Amazon will float in the 30 - 37.50 range for the next month. If it does, you make a nice $170 per contract. If it drops below that, you own Amazon at a net of $28.30. And on the upside, Amazon has to go above $39.20 for you to lose.


The gift that keeps on giving

John Francois Kerry:
"My impression is there's no way he's not going to run," said a confidant who speaks with Kerry regularly and asked not to be identified.


"A lot of the people who helped in '04 have encouraged him to take a look at running again," [Kerry fund-raiser Robert] Farmer said. ``When you travel with him today, he's like a rock star."

Now which rock star would that be? Do you see him as more like Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, or Metallica's James Hetfield? Tough call.

Ready to suit up one more time
Suited up and reporting for duty.

HT: Karol.


Hardly Strictly Bluegrass pics

The Nashville Bluegrass Band

Dry Branch Fire Squad

On the hill above the Songwriters Circle with Steve Earle, Billy Bragg, Guy Clark, and Verlon Thompson.

Earl Scruggs

Crowd shot

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg video


Nighttime attacks happen in broad daylight

Domestic violence plagues women worldwide, study says

HT: Ang.

Tales from the bubble

Housing bubble? What housing bubble?

After spending a year and upward of $15,000 (borrowed on credit cards) going to real estate seminars and buying home education courses from everyone from Russ Whitney to Bruce Norris and, of course, the aforementioned Robert "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" Kiyosaki, [22-year-old Casey] Serin embarked on his brilliant career as a real estate flopper, er, flipper.

He quit his job and in the next four months he acquired six more properties. All in all, his portfolio included eight single-family homes, including two houses in Sacramento and one in Modesto, a seven-bedroom fixer-upper in Highland, Utah, a model home in Rio Rancho, N.M. and five-bedroom, four-bathroom ranch house in Dallas, Texas.


Off to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. See you there.


Good advice

You can't beat this:
Yeah, it might be photoshopped. But it's still good advice.

Sports cliches gone bad

I may be wrong, but I believe I just heard, in a mid-inning interview, Mets manager Willie Randolph say, "His speed is infectious."

Wow. I'm going to start hanging around fast people.

A journalist's paranoid racist Scalia fantasy

Slate writer Dahlia Lithwick covered the Supreme Court's first day, and was shocked -- shocked! -- at this Scalia comment on whether a deported convicted felon is still on supervised release while in Mexico:
"Nobody thinks your client is really, you know, abstaining from tequila down in Mexico because he is on supervised release in the United States."

The horror! Suggesting that someone might drink tequila, a well-known and widely promoted Mexican liquor, while in Mexico!

Yes, Lithwick goes on:
Nobody laughs. But then, nobody winces or flinches, either. Somehow, a remark that would have flattened us had a Souter spoken it is just a solid day at the office for Scalia. I have no idea where the tequila comment should register on the nation's macaca-meter. The more interesting question is about Scalia's deliberate carelessness with language, his sense that he is somehow above the sorts of linguistic delicacy the rest of us expect in our dealings with others. Indeed, he seems to think it's his obligation to be ever more reckless with his words, perhaps because he's about the only guy left who faces no consequences for his rhetorical body-slams.
Wow! Imagine if Souter said something about someone drinking tequila in Mexico! Can you imagine the outrage? And how deliberately careless and reckless Scalia is! Tequila! What a body-slam!

The editors at Slate treated this story as the sure-fire Pulitzer story it is: they ran it as the top story on the front page with a headline reading "Scalia's macaca moment."

Nailed it

Twitter (X) : To be fair, though, I thought they'd come up with someone more appealing than Cackles Harris.