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Reason Magazine: “How established homeowners use regulations to stop new low-cost homes.”

It’s not mentioned in the Reason article, but the real curse of zoning is the prohibition of innovation. By forbidding all projects, land-use tyrants exclude not just the dreck but also the sheer genius. Some builder coud have come up with the modern equivalent of Wright’s Five-Thousand Dollar Home, but that guy works in software instead, where innovation is celebrated and rewarded.

Meanwhile, the hard consequences of coercive land-use regulations:

When a news crew showed up to film a public meeting in tony Darien, Connecticut, in 2005, some of the residents were less than thrilled. “Why don’t you fucking shoot something else?” one demanded. Hundreds crammed into the hearing, sneering and jeering during the presentation.

The fresh hell residents showed up to protest? A proposal to replace a nondescript single-family home on a one-acre lot with 20 condos for senior citizens.

In Snob Zones, journalist Lisa Prevost describes the heights of entitlement to which property owners ascend when faced with the prospect of new development, especially multi-family dwellings in neighborhoods dominated by single-family homes. Prevost tours New England and finds an aging, declining populace bent on excluding outsiders. In town after town, affluent and working-class alike, residents line up to shout down new development no matter how modest.

In Darien, the need for the proposed project was clear; the town’s senior housing center had a long wait list, as did the last condo development built in the area (in 1994). Still, many townsfolk, expecting the project to open the floodgates to more high-density projects in the resolutely low-density burgh, were incensed.

Incumbent homeowners have a powerful weapon for vetoing change: zoning. In Darien and other exclusive zip codes, mandated minimum lot sizes kneecap developers who want to build something other than super-sized homes. In the process, they put entire towns out of reach for all but the wealthy. In hardscrabble Ossippee, New Hampshire, where it’s not uncommon for the working poor to live in tents during the summer months to save on rent, the zoning code flatly prohibits new apartment buildings.

Though Prevost, who covers the real estate beat for The New York Times, has no problem with the traditional justification for zoning (but for it, she believes, dirty industries might locate in residential neighborhoods), she has written as damning an indictment of zoning as any free marketeer could hope for. “The market is hungry for apartments, condominiums, and small homes,” says Prevost, “if only zoning restrictions would get out of the way.”

Where libertarians see an infringement on property rights, Prevost sees a problematic tradeoff between local demands for low density (tinged with fears that undesirables might move in next door) and regional needs for affordable housing. It amounts to the same thing, however: established residents using government force to kill the low-cost housing that would exist in a free market. In the words of the pioneering community planner (and ardent urban renewal opponent) Paul Davidoff, those who wield zoning laws “have not bought the land but instead have done the cheap and nasty thing of employing the police power to protect their own interest.” Nice.

Read the whole thing. Here’s a sweet joke for incentive:

In the words of one developer who switched to building cottage homes during the recession: “I used to say, we’re building homes for people who can’t afford them, with money they don’t have, to impress people they don’t know. You could just see it—it was stupid.”

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  • 10 comments

    Joel Kotkin on the triumph of suburbia.

    New Geography:

    The “silver lining” in our five-years-and-running Great Recession, we’re told, is that Americans have finally taken heed of their betters and are finally rejecting the empty allure of suburban space and returning to the urban core.

    “We’ve reached the limits of suburban development,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan declared in 2010. “People are beginning to vote with their feet and come back to the central cities.” Ed Glaeser’s Triumph of the City and Alan Ehrenhalt’s The Great Inversion—widely praised and accepted by the highest echelons of academia, press, business, and government—have advanced much the same claim, and just last week a report on jobs during the downturn garnered headlines like “City Centers in U.S. Gain Share of Jobs as Suburbs Lose.”

    There’s just one problem with this narrative: none of it is true. A funny thing happened on the way to the long-trumpeted triumph of the city: the suburbs not only survived but have begun to regain their allure as Americans have continued aspiring to single-family homes.

    More:

    While they’ve weaved a compelling narrative, the numbers make it clear that the retro-urbanists only chance of prevailing is a disaster, say if the dynamics associated with the Great Recession—a rise in renting, declining home ownership and plunging birthrates—become our new, ongoing normal. Left to their own devices, Americans will continue to make the “wrong” choices about how to live.

    And in the end, it boils down to where people choose to live. Despite the dystopian portrays of suburbs, suburbanites seem to win the argument over place and geography, with far higher percentages rating their communities as “excellent” compared to urban core dwellers.

    Today’s suburban families, it should be stressed, are hardly replicas of 1950s normality; as Stephanie Coontz has noted, that period was itself an anomaly. But however they are constituted—as blended families, ones headed up by single parents or gay couples—they still tend to congregate in these kinds of dispersed cities, or in the suburban hinterlands of traditional cities. Ultimately life style, affordability and preference seem to trump social views when people decide where they would like to live.

    We already see these preferences establishing themselves, again, among Generation X and even millennials as some move, according to The New York Times,toward “hipsturbia,” with former Brooklynites migrating to places along the Hudson River. The Times, as could be expected, drew a picture of hipsters “re-creating urban core life” in the suburbs. While it may be seems incomprehensible to the paper’s Manhattan-centric world view by moving out, these new suburbanites are opting not to re-create the high-density city but to leave it for single-family homes, lawns, good schools, and spacious environments—things rarely available in places such as Brooklyn except to the very wealthiest. Like the original settlers of places like Levittown, they migrated to suburbia from the urban core as they get married, start families and otherwise find themselves staked in life. In an insightful critique, the New York Observerskewered the pretensions of these new suburbanites, pointing out that “despite their tattoos and gluten-free baked goods and their farm-to-table restaurants, they are following in the exact same footsteps as their forebears.”

    So, rather than the “back to the cities” movement that’s been heralded for decades but never arrived, we’ve gone “back to the future,” as people age and arrive in America and opt for updated versions of the same lifestyle that have drawn previous generations to the much detested yet still-thriving peripheries of the metropolis.

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    Zero Hedge: “Presenting: The Housing Bubble 2.0″

    Tyler Durden:

    It was just seven short years ago that the prices at the epicenter of the housing bubble, Los Angeles, CA rose by 50% every six months as the nation experienced its first parabolic move higher in home prices courtesy of Alan Greenspan’s disastrous policies: a time when everyone knew intuitively the housing market was in an epic bubble, yet which nobody wanted to pop because there was just too much fun to be had chasing the bouncing ball, not to mention money. Well, courtesy of the real-time real estate pricing trackers at Altos Research, we now know that the very worst of the housing bubble is not only back, but it is at levels not seen since the days when a house in the Inland Empire was only a faint glimmer of the prototype for BitCoin.

    Urf.

    A lot of the people I talk to in Phoenix are trying to time their exit. It wasn’t this way in 2005-2006; I had people still eager to buy ten months after the market had turned.

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  • 3 comments

    Kotkin: “Why the next great American cities aren’t what you think.”

    Joel Kotkin at The Daily Beast:

    Once considered backwaters, these Sunbelt cities are quietly achieving a critical mass of well-educated residents. They are also becoming major magnets for immigrants. Over the past decade, the largest percentage growth in foreign-born population has occurred in sunbelt cities, led by Nashville, which has doubled its number of immigrants, as have Charlotte and Raleigh. During the first decade of the 21st century, Houston attracted the second-most new, foreign-born residents, some 400,000, of any American city—behind only much larger New York and slightly ahead of Dallas-Ft. Worth, but more than three times as many as Los Angeles. According to one recent Rice University study, Census data now shows that Houston has now surpassed New York as the country’s most racially and ethnically diverse metropolis.

    Why are these people flocking to the aspirational cities, that lack the hip amenities, tourist draws, and cultural landmarks of the biggest American cities? People are still far more likely to buy a million dollar pied à terre in Manhattan than to do so in Oklahoma City. Like early-20th-century Polish peasants who came to work in Chicago’s factories or Russian immigrants, like my grandparents, who came to New York to labor in the rag trade, the appeal of today’s smaller cities is largely economic. The foreign born, along with generally younger educated workers, are canaries in the coal mine—singing loudest and most frequently in places that offer both employment and opportunities for upward mobility and a better life.

    Over the decade, for example, Austin’s job base grew 28 percent, Raleigh’s by 21 percent, Houston by 20 percent, while Nashville, Atlanta, San Antonio, and Dallas-Ft. Worth saw job growth in the 14 percent range or better. In contrast, among all the legacy cities, only Seattle and Washington D.C.—the great economic parasite—have created jobs faster than the national average of roughly 5 percent. Most did far worse, with New York and Boston 20 percent below the norm; big urban regions including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and, despite the current tech bubble, San Francisco have created essentially zero new jobs over the decade.

    [....]

    The reality is that most urban growth in our most dynamic, fastest-growing regions has included strong expansion of the suburban and even exurban fringe, along with a limited resurgence in their historically small inner cores. Economic growth, it turns out, allows for young hipsters to find amenable places before they enter their 30s, and affordable, more suburban environments nearby to start families.

    This urbanizing process is shaped, in many ways, by the late development of these regions. In most aspirational cities, close-in neighborhoods often are dominated by single-family houses; it’s a mere 10 or 15 minute drive from nice, leafy streets in Ft. Worth, Charlotte, or Austin to the urban core. In these cities, families or individuals who want to live near the center can do without being forced to live in a tiny apartment.

    And in many of these places, the historic underdevelopment in the central district, coupled with job growth, presents developers with economically viable options for higher-density housing as well. Houston presents the strongest example of this trend. Although nearly 60 percent of Houston’s growth over the decade has been more than 20 miles outside the core, the inner ring area encompassed within the loop around Interstate 610 has also been growing steadily, albeit at a markedly slower rate. This contrasts with many urban regions, where close-in areas just beyond downtowns have been actually losing population.

    [....]

    Pressed by local developers and planners, some aspirational cities spend heavily on urban transit, including light rail. To my mind, these efforts are largely quixotic, with transit accounting for five percent or less of all commuters in most systems. The Charlotte Area Transit System represents less a viable means of commuting for most residents than what could be called Manhattan infrastructure envy. Even urban-planning model Portland, now with five radial light rail lines and a population now growing largely at its fringes, carries a smaller portion of commuters on transit than before opening its first line in 1986.

    But such pretentions, however ill-suited, have always been commonplace for ambitious and ascending cities, and are hardly a reason to discount their prospects. Urbanistas need to wake up, start recognizing what the future is really looking like and search for ways to make it work better. Under almost any imaginable scenario, we are unlikely to see the creation of regions with anything like the dynamic inner cores of successful legacy cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago or San Francisco. For better or worse, demographic and economic trends suggest our urban destiny lies increasingly with the likes of Houston, Charlotte, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Raleigh and even Phoenix.

    The critical reason for this is likely to be missed by those who worship at the altar of density and contemporary planning dogma. These cities grow primarily because they do what cities were designed to do in the first place: help their residents achieve their aspirations—and that’s why they keep getting bigger and more consequential, in spite of the planners who keep ignoring or deploring their ascendance.

    Read the whole thing. I’ve been pimping Kotkin here for years. When you see his name out on the nets, give him your time. He’s been dead right about what’s happening in American cities, where Richard Florida has been dead wrong.

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  • 1 comment

    Apparently, insanity is buying the same house over and over again, even though you never qualify.

    You just can’t make this shit up: Obama administration pushes banks to make home loans to people with weaker credit. Why not? It worked out so well the last time.

    The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.

    President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession.

    In response, administration officials say they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs — including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration — that insure home loans against default.

    Housing officials are urging the Justice Department to provide assurances to banks, which have become increasingly cautious, that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default.

    Officials are also encouraging lenders to use more subjective judgment in determining whether to offer a loan and are seeking to make it easier for people who owe more than their properties are worth to refinance at today’s low interest rates, among other steps.

    Obama pledged in his State of the Union address to do more to make sure more Americans can enjoy the benefits of the housing recovery, but critics say encouraging banks to lend as broadly as the administration hopes will sow the seeds of another housing disaster and endanger taxpayer dollars.

    “If that were to come to pass, that would open the floodgates to highly excessive risk and would send us right back on the same path we were just trying to recover from,” said Ed Pinto, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former top executive at mortgage giant Fannie Mae.

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    We are all ‘greater fools’ now: How can you sell your house to a big family when big families don’t exist any longer?

    Markets go up. Markets go down. But the whole house of cards is built on the idea that population will grow. What happens when it doesn’t?

    matt-king-most-depressing-slide

    From Business Insider:

    It’s what I like to call “the most depressing slide I’ve ever created.” In almost every country you look at, the peak in real estate prices has coincided – give or take literally a couple of years – with the peak in the inverse dependency ratio (the proportion of population of working age relative to old and young).

    In the past, we all levered up, bought a big house, enjoyed capital gains tax-free, lived in the thing, and then, when the kids grew up and left home, we sold it to someone in our children’s generation. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work so well when there start to be more pensioners than workers.

    The entire welfare state is built on the idea that young people can be milked of their wealth because they’re too busy being young to notice.

    Alas, the welfare state also awards adults either for not reproducing or for reproducing in only the most wealth-destructive ways. The consequence (entirely foreseeable) is that the number of dependents-by-choice goes up while the number of de facto slaves declines — by people either opting out of producing wealth or opting in to the welfare state’s “free” benefits or, as here, by not being born in the first place.

    This will not end happily…

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    Has your town pissed away a fortune on the so-called ‘creative class’? Bad news from Richard Florida: “On close inspection, talent clustering provides little in the way of trickle-down benefits.”

    Joel Kotkin:

    Among the most pervasive, and arguably pernicious, notions of the past decade has been that the “creative class” of the skilled, educated and hip would remake and revive American cities. The idea, packaged and peddled by consultant Richard Florida, had been that unlike spending public money to court Wall Street fat cats, corporate executives or other traditional elites, paying to appeal to the creative would truly trickle down, generating a widespread urban revival.

    Urbanists, journalists, and academics—not to mention big-city developers— were easily persuaded that shelling out to court “the hip and cool” would benefit everyone else, too. And Florida himself has prospered through books, articles, lectures, and university positions that have helped promote his ideas and brand and grow his Creative Class Group’s impressive client list, which in addition to big corporations and developers has included cities as diverse as Detroit and El Paso, Cleveland and Seattle.

    Well, oops.

    Florida himself, in his role as an editor at The Atlantic, admitted last month what his critics, including myself, have said for a decade: that the benefits of appealing to the creative class accrue largely to its members—and do little to make anyone else any better off. The rewards of the “creative class” strategy, he notes, “flow disproportionately to more highly-skilled knowledge, professional and creative workers,” since the wage increases that blue-collar and lower-skilled workers see “disappear when their higher housing costs are taken into account.” His reasonable and fairly brave, if belated, takeaway: “On close inspection, talent clustering provides little in the way of trickle-down benefits.”

    Rotarian Socialism doesn’t work? Not even when you geyser those subsidies at really hip, pomo Rotarians? Who knew…?

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    Embracing your inner anarchist — because there is no alternative.

    Here’s my quick take on the presidential election, from a video made one day prior to the event: Mitt Romney is going to win an Electoral College landslide. My state-by-state prediction is shown below, but it’s not based on any sort of arcane science. I’m just betting that married people with kids and jobs will vote to fire Barack Obama for gross incompetence.

    Note that this is not an expression of racism, as you will surely hear from the perpetually-sore-losers of the chattering classes. I’m just betting that the people with the biggest stake in the game of human life will vote against the most perniciously anti-life candidate ever to seek the office of the presidency.

    But at the same time, Romney’s win will not be any sort of repudiation of Marxism, contrary to Michael Walsh’s claim at National Review Online. It’s just the correction of a bad hiring decision.

    In this week’s video, I argue that the self-loving thing for you to do is to accept that fact that each human being is sovereign and indomitable, and that, therefore, self-control is all the control that can ever exist among human beings. In the course of that argument, I cite an essay of mine, Meet the Third Thing. I also recite an old poem, which I will transcribe here for what may be the first time it has ever appeared in print:

    What if I’ve been wrong?
    What if I’ve been wrong all along?
    What if everything I’ve said,
    everything I’ve done,
    everything I’ve thought about is wrong?
    What if I’ve been wrong all along?

    Here is this week’s video:

    For an audio-only version of this video, take yourself to the SelfAdoration.com podcast on iTunes.

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    Ray Bradbury: “In sum, do not insult me with the beheadings, finger-choppings or the lung-defiations you plan for my works. I need my head to shake or nod, my hand to wave or make into a fist, my lungs to shout or whis­per with. I will not go gently onto a shelf, degutted, to become a non-book.”

    Lately I’ve been pondering where the spice in our culture has gone? Perhaps, as a woman of a certain age, I’m unable to see it, but I don’t think so. My deviant detector is fairly well-tuned and I’m drawn to the outsiders of the world because, well, I am one, but it’s very milquetoast out there these days. We wouldn’t want to offend anyone or their delicate sensibilities.

    Somehow I missed reading Ray Bradbury. Well, no, not somehow. That was pretty much a planned avoidance of the sci-fi genre in general because it tends to spawn cult-like followers. True story. And I’m not much into cults however clever they are. But today David Boaz at the CATO Institute posted the Coda to the 1979 Del Rey edition of Fahrenheit 451, written by Ray Bradbury. And while I’ve been pondering our collective love of the plain vanilla, I’ve concluded that it seems to have begun around the year this Coda was written. Either it was the death of disco or the election of Ronald Reagan but something went terribly wrong around that time. I never read Bradbury, but this is quite lovely and also funny and has enough biting social commentary to make me appreciate the man’s sensibilities and shared appreciation of digressions. There are indeed many ways to burn a book.

    About two years ago, a letter arrived from a solemn young Vassar lady telling me how much she enjoyed reading my experiment in space mythology, The Martian Chronicles.

    But, she added, wouldn’t it be a good idea, this late in time, to rewrite the book inserting more women’s characters and roles?

    A few years before that I got a certain amount of mail concerning the same Martian book complaining that the blacks in the book were Uncle Toms and why didn’t I “do them over”?

    Along about then came a note from a Southern white suggesting that I was prejudiced in favor of the blacks and the entire story should be dropped.

    Two weeks ago my mountain of mail delivered forth a pipsqueak mouse of a letter from a well-known publishing house that wanted to reprint my story “The Fog Horn” in a high school reader.

    In my story, I had described a lighthouse as hav­ing, late at night, an illumination coming from it that was a “God-Light.” Looking up at it from the view-point of any sea-creature one would have felt that one was in “the Presence.”

    The editors had deleted “God-Light” and “in the Presence.”

    Some five years back, the editors of yet another anthology for school readers put together a volume with some 400 (count ‘em) short stories in it. How do you cram 400 short stories by Twain, Irving, Poe, Maupassant and Bierce into one book?

    Simplicity itself. Skin, debone, demarrow, scarify, melt, render down and destroy. Every adjective that counted, every verb that moved, every metaphor that weighed more than a mosquito—out! Every simile that would have made a sub-moron’s mouth twitch—gone! Any aside that explained the two-bit philosophy of a first-rate writer—lost!

    Every story, slenderized, starved, bluepenciled, leeched and bled white, resembled every other story. Twain read like Poe read like Shakespeare read like Dostoevsky read like—in the finale—Edgar Guest. Every word of more than three syllables had been ra­zored. Every image that demanded so much as one instant’s attention—shot dead.

    Do you begin to get the damned and incredible picture?

    How did I react to all of the above?

    By “firing” the whole lot.

    By sending rejection slips to each and every one. By ticketing the assembly of idiots to the far reaches of hell.

    The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people run­ning about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist / Unitarian, Irish / Italian / Octogenarian / Zen Buddhist, Zionist/Seventh-day Adventist, Women’s Lib/ Republican, Mattachine/ Four Square Gospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse. Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme.

    Fire-Captain Beatty, in my novel Fahrenheit 451, described how the books were burned first by minori­ties, each ripping a page or a paragraph from this book, then that, until the day came when the books were empty and the minds shut and the libraries closed forever.

    “Shut the door, they’re coming through the win­dow, shut the window, they’re coming through the door,” are the words to an old song. They fit my life-style with newly arriving butcher/censors every month. Only six weeks ago, I discovered that, over the years, some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine Books, fearful of contaminating the young, had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel. Students, reading the novel which, after all, deals with censorship and book-burning in the fu­ture, wrote to tell me of this exquisite irony. Judy-Lynn Del Rey, one of the new Ballantine editors, is having the entire book reset and republished this summer with all the damns and hells back in place.

    A final test for old Job II here: I sent a play, Leviathan 99, off to a university theater a month ago. My play is based on the “Moby Dick” mythology, dedi­cated to Melville, and concerns a rocket crew and a blind space captain who venture forth to encounter a Great White Comet and destroy the destroyer. My drama premieres as an opera in Paris this autumn.

    But, for now, the university wrote back that they hardly dared do my play—it had no women in it! And the ERA ladies on campus would descend with ball-bats if the drama department even tried!

    Grinding my bicuspids into powder, I suggested that would mean, from now on, no more productions of Boys in the Band (no women), or The Women (no men). Or, counting heads, male and female, a good lot of Shakespeare that would never be seen again, especially if you count lines and find that all the good stuff went to the males!

    I wrote back maybe they should do my play one week, and The Women the next. They probably thought I was joking, and I’m not sure that I wasn’t.

    For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangu­tan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversation­ist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights end and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mor­mons do not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent type-writers. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmilk teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture. If the Chicano intel­lectuals wish to re-cut my “Wonderful Ice Cream Suit” so it shapes “Zoot,” may the belt unravel and the pants fall.

    For, let’s face it, digression is the soul of wit. Take philosophic asides away from Dante, Milton or Ham-let’s father’s ghost and what stays is dry bones. Laur­ence Sterne said it once: Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine, the life, the soul of reading! Take them out and one cold eternal winter would reign in every page. Restore them to the writer—he steps forth like a bridegroom, bids them all-hail, brings in variety and forbids the appetite to fail.

    In sum, do not insult me with the beheadings, finger-choppings or the lung-defiations you plan for my works. I need my head to shake or nod, my hand to wave or make into a fist, my lungs to shout or whis­per with. I will not go gently onto a shelf, degutted, to become a non-book.

    All you umpires, back to the bleachers. Referees, hit the showers. It’s my game. I pitch, I hit, I catch. I run the bases. At sunset I’ve won or lost. At sunrise, I’m out again, giving it the old try.

    And no one can help me. Not even you.

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  • 7 comments

    I Hate Bill Maher

    I hate Bill Maher…mostly. Hate most of the stances he takes, and over the years the manner in which he has taken them. “Never make a point when you can take a shot…Maher.” But in this short video he has me laughing, at myself and even with him. Good on ya….as Greg would say.

     

    Am I getting soft, going kookoo, or simply exposing that mostly I like to laugh rather than look at gestalt or grouse? Ah well, Maher will do himself in with me in a week or month, but for today I’m leaving work with a smile on my face. Be happy my fellow hounds….

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    SOPAStrike.com

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    CNBC: “In the name of supporting home prices, the Obama administration will likely put in place a system under which investors make private profits while the taxpayers subsidize the risk.”

    Is housing the next Solyndra? Looks like it. The Obama administration is getting ready to transfer billions of dollars worth of foreclosed homes to campaign donors. If you think still more Rotarian Socialism sucks, wait until the house up the block from yours goes Section 8. Looters never tire of loot, so rent money they don’t have to earn will turn out to be the perfect garnish for real property they won’t have to pay for.

    We are living in Part Three of Atlas Shrugged

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  • Apparently, insanity is buying the same house over and over again, even though you never qualify.
  • It’s going to get harder to get an FHA loan……

  • 8 comments

    Looking for some good news? You’ll find it among people who don’t push each other around at gunpoint.

    The Federal government wants to save your life by killing your livelihood.

    This is something we might expect the NAR to object to, but the National Association of Realtors is too busy telling lies.

    Meanwhile, here’s some actual good news: We are getting closer to workable video wallpaper.

    Related posts:
  • Consumers to Realtors: “Don’t push me, I’ll pull you instead — and if you push too hard, I’ll pull away”
  • What happens in an internet minute? And how do you hope to push-market your way through it?
  • Don’t you love reading all that good news about the the Phoenix real estate market’s recovery? Guess what? You’re being lied to — as always.

  • 3 comments

    Who’s the best enemy of your (illusion of) privacy? Uh, that would be you…

    Nice going, Twitwits: All your Tweets are belong to us.

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  • Facebook, Privacy, Monopolies, and Marketing Revenue…
  • Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
  • “Privacy is an artifact of inefficiency”

  • 7 comments

    Hey, California Realtors: Are you making minimum wage for your efforts? If not, your broker just went into cardiac arrest.

    Teri Lussier pointed this out to me last week, and I’ve been waiting since then for someone to plumb the implications. Ah, well, when there’s constabulary work to be done…

    Here’s the news: The state of California is making ZipRealty pay it agents minimum wage for their time.

    That’s huge. It’s just the thin edge of the wedge, for now, but the implication is that the real estate broker’s “safe harbor” exclusion from employment laws is about to be flushed into the Pacific Ocean.

    The “safe harbor” argument is that real estate salespeople are independent contractors, and that brokers are not obliged to pay them any wages, nor to provide any benefits.

    This is why brokers pile on as many hopeless, helpless, hapless idiots as they can: Virtually everyone has at least one transaction in him, and the cost to the broker for the eventual failure of 85%+ of the new “hires” is nothing.

    I don’t want to seem to praise employment laws, since their sole effect is to destroy jobs. But no other business would — or even could — be as wasteful of human capital as virtually every real estate brokerage is.

    Could that be changing in California? Take note of this:

    “Employers who previously were not concerned with minimum wage issues are now put on notice to ensure they are providing those basic protections to workers.”

    And this:

    After learning of the Bakersfield cases, California State Labor Commissioner Julie Su in September filed a $17 million lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of hundreds of other ZipRealty employees statewide. That lawsuit is pending.

    Brokerages like Zip (and Redfin, etc.) have a greater exposure, because they operate too much like real businesses. But I can’t imagine what the 25,000 or so starving California Realtors might be thinking just now.

    But I think I have a fair idea what their brokers are thinking…

    The National Association of Realtors is propped up on three flimsy stilts: The real estate licensing laws, the “co-broke” — the cooperating brokerage fee behind the MLS system — and the IRS-sanctioned independent contractor “safe-harbor.”

    Unheralded by anyone who knows why it matters, the “safe-harbor” took the first hit in its ultimate demise last week. You heard it here first.

    Related posts:
  • Run faster: There’s a new minimum wage in Arizona . . .
  • Dawn in America Part 3.5- Who Needs Jobs?
  • Oregon voters tell High Earners and Businesses to GET OUT! Where will they go?

  • 11 comments

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