Monday, March 07, 2005
The Oracle predicts a "Sharecropper's Society"
From the Financial Times:
Mr [Warren] Buffett stepped up his warning about the US trade deficit and the need to finance it with foreign investment, devoting more than two full pages of the annual report to the topic.
"This force-feeding of American wealth to the rest of the world is now proceeding at the rate of $1.8bn daily, an increase of 20 per cent since I wrote you last year," he said. "Consequently, other countries and their citizens now own a net of about $3,000bn of the US"
In particular, he warned that this meant a sizeable portion of what US citizens earned in future would have to be paid to foreign landlords.
"A country that is now aspiring to an 'Ownership Society' will not find happiness in -- and I'll use hyperbole here for emphasis-- a 'Sharecropper's Society,'" added Mr Buffett. 'But that's precisely where our trade policies, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, are taking us."
"My hope was to make several multi-billion dollar acquisitions that would add new and significant streams of earnings to the many we already have. But I struck out," he said "Additionally, I found very few attractive securities to buy. Berkshire therefore ended the year with $43 billion of cash equivalents, not a happy position."
Do you think "sharecropper" is too hyperbolic? Well ok, perhaps. How about "perpetual servant class", then, courtesy of Congress' BK killers
? Republican Jesus
I'm sorry, you say "servant class" is still too shrill? ... Have you considered that it might depend on who is doing the serving?
Remember Santorum's bill next time you go out to eat in New Orleans.
Keep your French Taxes away from my Freedom Fries!
No matter what John Breaux and the rest of the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform end up recommending
, I'm calling it the "French Tax"
Consumption tax, sales tax, Value Added Tax... whatever, doesn't matter. They use it in France, so we'll designate it the French Tax.
"What do you think of this national [30%] sales tax idea?"
"Like the French have? Naw, I prefer we keep things the same if that's the alternative."
You may find it a bit distasteful, but it's a winner. Make Republicans defend the French Tax.
I'd like a large Supreme pizza, hold the proselytizing.
In his typically excellent way, local columnist James Gill
asks what would Jesus say about the Tangipahoa Parish School Board's appeal against U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan's ruling that it cannot open its public meetings with a prayer. Gill takes the radical step of actually citing scripture to these devout holy warriors:
So WWJD? It is not necessary to conjecture what his views might be on the separation of church and state, because he thought that praying in public was for "hypocrites."
He instructed, "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut the door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
Good show, sir! Jolly well done. And we could've all called it a day after that had we not noticed this puzzling little aside at the end of his column:
Public prayer is by no means the worst offense committed by the Tangipahoa School Board, which a few years ago wanted to paste a leaf in textbooks warning students that evolution lessons were "not intended to influence or dissuade the biblical version of Creation." The board went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in futile defense of that illiterate sentence.
Another feature of education in Tangipahoa, since abandoned, was the pizza minister. He was allowed to visit schools, dispensing pepperoni and religion, until the ACLU filed suit and the board backed off.
Pizza... minister? Visiting public schools?!? Huh?
"The [ACLU] suit arose out of the regular appearance of Steve Farmer, a youth minister with Face It Ministries, at lunch time meetings where he supplied free pizza and preached to the students."
shows us why Austin is still weird, even weirder than Tangipahoa parish.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Can New Orleans handle another "Thief"?
from Life in New Orleans:
On the heels of its pickup of two comedy series, FX has ordered two more dramas to add to its stable of critically lauded shows.
The cable network has ordered 13 episodes of "Over There," a drama about a military unit stationed in Iraq, and six episodes of "Thief," which stars Emmy winner Andre Braugher as a professional burglar facing personal and professional crisis.
The long-gestating "Thief," which first came to FX in late 2003, will go into production in the fall in New Orleans and premiere in early 2006. Created by Norman Morrill ("The Visitor"), the show will follow Braugher's character, Nick Atwater, as he and his crew prepare for a big job.
Complicating matters are Nick's teenage stepdaughter, a police officer searching for a big bust and members of the Chinese Mafia who were previously victimized by Nick's team. The cast includes Dina Meyer ("Point Pleasant"), Mae Whitman ("Arrested Development"), Yancey Arias ("Kingpin"), Will Yun Lee ("Witchblade," "Die Another Day"), Malik Yoba ("New York Undercover"), Michael Rooker ("The 6th Day") and Clifton Collins ("Traffic").
Do you know where your uncool niece is?
Don't mess with him, you little clowns.
So many indulgences... and for free!
is one of the guest bloggers subbing over at Pandagon.
She's a smart analytic philosopher, and recently wrote a devastating post about the Terry Schiavo
"controversy", which I recommend. Anyway, she was prompted to do a "random ten" as well as list her five favorite philosophers
(Quine, Davidson, Hume, Parfit(?), Bentham). As one who studied continental philosophy (and who is mighty rusty), I will also proudly list my top five favorite philosophers. Six through ten would've been far more interesting, but we'll save that exercise for another day.
1. Plato (the rest are just footnotes)
2. Nietzsche (his sisters called him "Fritz")
3. Kierkegaard (a favorite of our state treasurer!)
4. Hume (because he changed my heart)
5. Wittgenstein ("A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.")
Oh, and the random ten songs. Sh*t. I don't own an iFruit, so I'm going to list some random ones that I wish I (still) had in my collection.
"Get out of my dreams, get into my car" --Billy Ocean
"Julia Dream" --Pink Floyd
2. "St. Vitus Dance"-- Black Sabbath
3. "Rolly Polly" --Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys
4. "Primary" --Cure
5. "Mean Streets" --Van Halen
6. "Butterflies" --Crimpshrine
7. "Trouble" --Elvis Presley
8. "Fuck more, Bitch less" --Billy Goat
9. "Wonderful" --Circle Jerks
10. "Family Picnic" --Babe the Blue Ox
has his up. And Michael
lists songs and
Friday, March 04, 2005
Over seven other properties border our large, irregularly shaped lot. So, in short, we have plenty of neighbors. All of them are parents of various ages. I'll present some other random details about them below, and if you like you can match the neighbor with their "correct" description. If you find that not enough information has been provided, or that what has been provided is irrelevant ... well, I'm liable to agree with you. But have a go at it, anyways. What else are you going to do here?
1) White Lesbian couple with adopted son from Russia
2) Black family-- mother is a landlord of loud white tenants
3) White older couple, fixtures of neighborhood for 35+ years
4) White younger couple with twins, renovating old house
5) Black family-- has young daughter, like Colicky.
6) Black landlord, plus family, plus tenants
A) Staunch Republicans-- BC '04 sign prominently displayed in picket fence yard.
B) Unfailingly polite household keeps to themselves, Son is a valedictorian
C) Relatives from another part of town came to stay for several months. One night an argument led to some gunplay. A firearm discharged and a bullet landed in our yard. The cops came and closed down the street.
D) Father is a crackhead, and has been thrown out of house, but keeps coming back at all hours pleading a second chance. (We say he's a crackhead because we saw him buying crack in the projects.)
E) You could set your watch by their regular work schedule. Husband and wife are commuters, they grill on weekends.
F) Head of household is crabby. Owns a pool, never uses it, but complains because leaves from my tree collect in it.
---* Answers and title explanation will be posted later in the comments.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
"We have 2 classes of forecasters: Those who don't know... and those who don't know they don't know."
At UNO's 2005 Economic Outlook and Real Estate Forecast Seminar
, there was only unbridled optimism about the future of Real Estate in New Orleans. The usual suspects were trotted out to deflate any talk of "bubbles", and to tell everyone that there was "nothing in sight" to stop rising demand and rising prices. "Nothing!" Wow, how nice. And what was their reasoning to support such a forecast? All I can say is far too much of it was based on some assinine USAToday article about predictions of housing demand 30 years from now
. Well, that sure eased my nerves about the near term! In 2000 when QQQQ investors
were wondering whether the Maestro could choreograph a soft landing, I bet some long term charts showing a rosy 2030 would've soothed them, too.
I'm starting to agree more and more with peak-oil alarmist Jim Kunstler
's description of the U.S. economy:
...a chain of realtors driving SUVs to tanning booths to impress house-buyers borrowing money from lenders who flip the mortgages to government sponsored entities who can't add up a column of figures, even with the help of computers.
I don't know what geofiscopolitical stone will upset the credit apple cart, but Musing's
offers a good guess.
True, the New Orleans market is a special case because it is surrounded by waters and swamp-- there's hardly anywhere to build out. Still, for example, my property has increased in value by 45% in just over two years-- and I don't even live in one of the red hot neighborhoods... Sustainable? Hell no! Sustainable in an area that doesn't create net jobs? Place your bets.
Speculation, a key indicator of bubbles, is "on the march" in the hot markets (NYT)
According to LoanPerformance Inc., a San Francisco mortgage data firm, about 8.5 percent of mortgages nationwide in the first 11 months of last year were taken out by people who did not plan to live in the houses themselves, up from 5.8 percent in 2000. In some markets, that proportion is much higher: in Phoenix, more than 12 percent of mortgages were taken out by investors; in Miami, the figure is 11 percent.
'Course, I've been banging this drum
for a number of months now, and blood has yet to fill the streets.
Like a hungry ghoul, though, I'm still sniffing around.Update:
More from my favorite Wall Street Rocket Surgeon.
* John Kenneth Galbraith (H/T Big Pic
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
So what are our Senators up to?
Boy, Tom Cruise is such a better actor than Jude Law-- isn't that a funny line? Anyone who thinks that's a stupid premise for a joke must be some humorless, self-important blowhard, huh? Har dee har har...
How bout this? Next time I want an "edgy comic", I'll wait for David Cross rather than settle for Chris Rock.
Anywayz, usually I get my movie news and insights from guys like Shannon
who actually make
movies. But wait til you see what Dr. Vinturella has for us today over at NO BULL -
- news on the first gay horror/slasher flick!!
-- produced by Joseph Wolf, the co-creator of Halloween.
If intrigued, go take a look at NO BULL
, and tell the professor what you think. He has a link to the promo, which declares "everyone is talking about" the film. Hmm...
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
I'm comin' Elizabeth, this is the big one
My chest tightened when I read that Bush listens to Creedence
on his ipod, thus raising the possibility that he enjoys jogging to the inspiring words of "Fortunate Son".
Here's one of many applicable verses:
Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord,
And when you ask them, "How much should we give?"
Ooh, they only answer More! more! more!
Speaking of giving "more", Phil Carter
contends that Iraq will eventually force us to reinstitute the draft: "In short, America's all-volunteer military simply cannot deploy and sustain enough troops to succeed in places like Iraq while still deterring threats elsewhere in the world."
I'll take your word for it
This unexpected comparison from one of the best biographies
An impressed twentieth-century critic wrote: Louisiana politics is of an intensity and complexity that are matched, in my experience, only in the Republic of Lebanon.
Well this year
, I think they have us beat on "intensity."
"You couldn't get any tighter if you'd been in New Orleans all your life."
Too often New Orleans isn't one of the "selected cities" which gets to view limited release films. (Yeah, I know my Lafayette friends are like "Cry me a river, oyster.")
But tonight, due to the efforts of the New Orleans Film Festival, Ramones fans like myself will get to see End of the Century
, at the historic Prytania
theater. The documentary on the band was released last year, but I never got to see it, so I'm looking forward to this rare chance for a big-screen experience. Thanks to the Gambit
for the write-up
, or else I would've missed it.
In the past few years three of the original members died, and this film supposedly details their (immense) differences with one another until the very end. Oh, and to you other cretin hoppers out there: the new remastered Ramones album sounds fantastic-- when punk was born...
From the Gambit's review:
The Ramones influenced or helped start countless punk bands in both the U.S. and Great Britain, not the least of which was the Clash, which initially co-opted the Ramones' sound before incorporating reggae and other influences into their own unique style. The Clash's Joe Strummer, who also recently died, provides the most telling comment on the band: "It was like a white heat because of the constant barrage of tunes. You couldn't put a cigarette paper between one tune ending and the next beginning. You couldn't get any tighter if you'd been in New Orleans all your life."
That quote pleases me on so many levels.