Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Must buy CDs!

I designed a webpage for my friend Jesse Sprinkle. He's an awesome musician, and he's trying to sell his backlog of CDs to fund another trip to Uganda with the Uganda Water Project.

So go buy CDs.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bookpool closed!

I was trying to get to Bookpool to order my once-a-year technical book, and I found out it closed! That's a bummer.

This is in their memory.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Green shoots: Part 2

Following up, it looks like Texas sales taxes were down 11% in July, 6.8% in August, and 2.2% for the year.

Bad third quarter, bad school season sales, bad trend, though not as bad as Oklahoma. Christmas will be more telling.

This is just creepy

They swept the area, in front of the Department of Veterans Affairs, with bomb-sniffing dogs and installed magnetometers in the middle of the street, put up barricades to keep pedestrians out, and took positions with binoculars atop trucks. Though the produce stand was only a block or so from the White House, the first lady hopped into her armored limousine and pulled into the market amid the wail of sirens.

Then, and only then, could Obama purchase her leafy greens. "Now it's time to buy some food," she told several hundred people who came to watch. "Let's shop!"

Cowbells were rung. Somebody put a lei of marigolds around Obama's neck.

Cowbells? Chains of marigolds, waiting to hang around her neck? A warm-up speech from the frickin' mayor? Crowds of hundreds called together just to hear retarded pap about "There are times when putting together a healthy meal is harder than you might imagine."

Wow. You don't say.

How often does she cook again? Let's ask the double-digit White House kitchen staff!

This article has other gems. "The first thing world leaders, prime ministers, kings, queens ask me about is the White House garden." I'm ... sure. "I've learned that when my family eats fresh food, healthy food, that it really affects how we feel, how we get through the day. Well, now, that's just a truism. You preach it, girlfriend! If you were here now, I'd hug you like you were the queen of England!

And then ... oh, well, I guess Dana Milbank ran out of things to quote from Michelle's "brief speech to the vendors and patrons." Which did involve "a soundstage, an interpreter for the deaf, three TV satellite trucks and the closing of part of downtown Washington."

Aside from her glib way with words, this is really, really, insanely disturbing. We have slipped into banana-republic worhsipping mode disturbingly easily. Mature countries don't hang around prepared to worship Dear Leader and Dear Leader's Woman whenever they crop up, like extra props shoved into the wings, a chorus waiting to dance as soon as the band strikes up. Mature people don't need their ego stroked like this.

This woman actually put out the effort to build a fricking stage for a fricking trip to a produce stand. With deaf interpreters. And little people waiting to drape flowers over her neck. And a mayor of a major city to introduce her. And bullet-proof humvees fore and aft, with bomb-sniffing dogs. And fricking cowbells to announce her entrance like fricking heralds for royalty, only in a more earthy - need we say humble? - way.

It is surreal.

This is not the face of freedom, folks.

Green shoots: Part 1

I know Oklahoma, so Oklahoma news gets covered.
Declining revenue is forcing state officials to order a 5 percent across-the-board cut to state agencies for the second consecutive month....

Preliminary reports show General Revenue Fund collections last month totaled $335.2 million. That amount is $154.9 million or 31.6 percent below the prior year and $131.3 million or 28.2 percent below the estimate.

Last month, financial officials ordered a 5 percent across-the-board cut in budget allocations after [state treasurer Scott] Meacham said revenue fell by more than 26 percent in July.

This was switfly followed by the fast and decisive plea by brave Democratic governor Brad Henry not to panic.
"We've gotten some new projections from the Tax Commission that don't look great but they do show that over the next few months we ought to be in a little bit better shape because of the traditionally higher collection months." The Governor says July and August are traditionally low collection months.

My favorite part about that is that August's back to school sales are the second largest sales period of the year, behind Christmas. So, "traditionally low" is a traditional political lie.

The results of these traditionally low just lower than we anticipated by not in any untraditional way sales months? Judicial salaries are frozen for two years, and Tulsa Public schools have had $720,000 less money for the last six weeks, with $500,000 less per month for the rest of the year. (Not that the money wasn't wasted anyway.) Plus round 2 of 5% across the board budget cuts.

I wonder what the other states look like? Our sales taxes are down 30% and state income taxes about the same. Social Security has been negative for 8 months of the last year (including July and August of this year, and, I think, every month since February 2009), and federal income taxes are down 30-40%. As in, through three weeks ago.

So what are the signs of recovery? More layoffs are bound to follow; they've been slower even than they could have been because of promises of recover in the third quarter. If that doesn't materialize - which it doesn't appear to in anything but NAR's housing numbers, which are bogus - then layoffs and cutbacks are inevitable.

Hooray, economy!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

And that's really the problem, isn't it?

From the WSJ:
Other Democrats suggested the protesters are embittered, fringe conservatives fueled by radio and TV talk-show hosts. "There's a lot of energy, but it's negative energy," said Democratic strategist John Lapp. "At the end of the day, Republicans are left with bomb-throwing, screaming, frothing and a lot of opposition."

For their part, Republican leaders have been grappling with whether to embrace or distance themselves from the mounting protests.

I can tell you, right now, if you don't know which side you're on, you are on the side of the Redcoats/Obama Democrats. Thanks for the support, Bush/McCain RINOs!

As a side note, I refused to attend any July 4 protests in disgust after they let John "Eye Care" Sullivan - who voted against-for-against-for TARP - speak at the Tax Day protest, with cheers and sweet words.

My other favorite quote:
The 54 riders on the Tallahassee bus provide a window into the new conservative energy. On the road, they listened to reminiscences of President Ronald Reagan's life, including his battle against Soviet-style communism.

Well, that's really the War on Terror of 1980, ain't it? The *-style naming convention doesn't really capture what was going on. Hint: he didn't fight "Soviet-style" Communism. He fought Soviets (in the USSR) and Communists (here and abroad). It wasn't like he was in favor of Chinese or Cuban style Communism and just liked to pick on the Ruskies.

And it's Communism, dude. Big C. The second totalinarian mindset we fought, after defeating fascism.

So which is it, drugs or kiddie porn?

There's a scene in the first X-Files movie, Fight the Future, where one of the sources for Mulder was being discredited and was under investigation. When Mulder accused him of lying at a meeting, the man looked at him, sighed, and asked, "So which is it, drugs or kiddie porn?" (The answer - drugs, in his case.)

My brother is reading a Star Wars book (hold the laughter, please) and he sent me a quote just this afternoon that he especially liked about the ruminations of a political prisoner, that went something along the lines of, "We all commit suicide now, whether we want to or not."

And then we have this.
Key Figure in Blagojevich Corruption Probe Found Dead

CHICAGO - Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's former chief fundraiser died Saturday at a Chicago hospital, a hospital spokesman said.

Christopher Kelly, 51, arrived at Cook County's Stroger hospital by ambulance at 5:15 a.m. Saturday and was pronounced dead at 10:46 a.m., said spokesman Marcel Bright.

Bright did not know whether Kelly was conscious when he arrived in the emergency room or where he was transported from. He said the body was still at the hospital, but was to be taken to the morgue where an autopsy was to be performed.

No cause of death yet. What do you think it will be, heart attack, suicide, or shot while trying to escape?

UPDATE :: 10:02pm
Looks like the answer is suicide!

Or should I say "suicide."

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Anecdotal recovery of the housing market

I'm looking for a permanent place in Texas, as many of you know. Like, all three readers. (Hi, guys!)

I was initially looking in Paris, because of the easy drive back to Tulsa. It's a city of about 25,000 people. When I was looking before, in July, there were 3-5 houses for rent listed in the newspaper. I didn't like the looks when I visited, so I didn't get anything there. But now there are 15 listings in the paper.

I started looking in Denison about three weeks ago, after I struck out in Paris. At the time, there were about 80 houses listed in the paper, which intrigued me. Denison is the same size city as Paris, and house sale prices are significantly higher than Paris, almost twice. Now, there are 115 houses listed in the Denison paper, and a few chinks are occuring in the real estate prices. (Bonham was the only place within 30 miles of Denison with remotely affordable land prices. The average? Around $5000 per acre, give or take. Recent listings have been at $1250 an acre. The current listings are still high, but that's a significant drop, IMO.)

So, there's a change.

My favorite chart!

I look forward to geoff's graph of the unemployment numbers every month.

The obvious trend is a lot more negative than the official numbers, natch. As the Atlanta fed chief says, real unemployment (people who want just and don't have them, not just people who haven't maxed out their unemployment yet) is closer 17%. There's another good chart at the link, showing the actual number of jobs in the country. Which — SHOCKER! — actually dropped in July, when employment allegedly went up.

Hooray, economy!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

I want to be Mark Steyn when I grow up.

Only, you know, prettier.

Altogether now! Let us chant for mankind and use our pens to write, "O beloved Obama, our courageous president, we are all servants defending the hope for you and marching to change."

And, unlike Saddam's Iraq, we don't have the mitigating condition of being a one-man psycho state invented by the British Colonial Office after lunch one day in 1922.

Any self-respecting schoolkid, enjoined by his principal to be a "servant" to the head of state, would reply, "Get lost, creep." And, if they still taught history in American schools, he'd add, "Oh, and by the way, that question was settled in 1776."

To accompany President Obama's classroom speech this week, the White House and America's "educators" drafted some accompanying study materials. Children would be invited to write letters to themselves saying what they could do to "help the President."

My suggestion: "Not tell people what I really think about his lousy health care plan."

Well, after the unwelcome media attention, that exercise was hastily dropped.

For the rest of us, the president does not yet require a written test from grown-ups after his speeches, but it's surely only a matter of time.

Friday, September 04, 2009

In the mail!

In a blatant rip-off of Instapundit, here's my mail stuff!

Okay, actually I got a Chi straightening iron in the mail today because my 18-month-old CVS-brand flat iron had mousse and hairspray burned onto it, and when I tried to clean it by scraping it with a butter knife, the coating on the plates got scoured. So I splurged and got a fancy straightening iron from drugstore.com.

But I ordered a bunch of stuff from Booksamillion a while back, so I'm reading my way through the pile. I just finished The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers, I am starting The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler, and East of Eden is on my nightstand. I also found a full set of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples by Churchill on alibris, being resold by the Goodwill of Tacoma of all places, and I snapped that up. It was a bargain at $52 (there were first editions on ebay for $1500 or more, and it's impossible to find all four books on Amazon).

I also bought the 100 Mysteries Movie Collection awhile back. Yes, yes, that inspired collection that is so highly beloved of James Lileks.

And then I have to do some rental-hunting. Whatevs. I'll see how much time I have leftover, because my holiday is totally planned.

Robert Wenzel's been on fire

I've been quiet lately, but Robert Wenzel has been banging a bunch of nifty drums. A sampling:

  1. Should Congress Run Monetary Policy?

  2. The European Alcohol High-Tax Avoidance Map

  3. Stockpile Incandescent Light Bulbs, Now

  4. Phony Government Bank Bailout "Profits"

  5. The Evil Ezekiel Emanuel

Check it out.