You go girl!

August 31, 2006

BERLIN, Germany (AP) — Prosecutors plan to keep an eye on Madonna’s weekend concert in Duesseldorf to see if the pop diva repeats the mock crucifixion scene that has drawn fire from religious leaders. Johannes Mocken, a spokesman for prosecutors in Duesseldorf, said Tuesday that a repeat of that scene during Sunday’s concert could be construed as insulting religious beliefs. (ed.: …which is apparently against the law in Germany!)

— I don’t know whether to be relieved or panicked to discover that America doesn’t have a monopoly on religious nut cases influencing government. If offending all the right people is a reliable measure of one’s worth (and I suspect it is), then Madonna continues as the gold standard.

I recently came across this amazing quote in an online profile…

“Activism, Books/Reading, Camping/Outdoors, Collecting, Computers, Politics, Travel, 40 hr work week? Child labor laws? Collective bargaining? Safety regulations? Employee healthcare? Social Security? Medicare/Medicaid? Gay rights? Civil rights? Environmental protection? You like? Then… THANK A LIBERAL!”

What amazing delusional arrogance. As though thousands of years of global travel, literacy, the “outdoors,” and computer technology all happened because of Democrats! No wonder the donkeys can’t manage a candidate of sufficient credibility to win an election. (It’s interesting that the writer neglected to mention public education–where he undoubtedly learned his critical thinking skills.)

Dark age attitudes

August 31, 2006

“The straightforward truth of the matter is free unmoderated chat isn’t safe,” Geoff Sutton, MSN’s European general manager, told Reuters.
— Thank goodness Microsoft isn’t running the world quite yet.

Editors humor

August 31, 2006

You have to appreciate the humor of the editors at the Ventura County Star, who placed an article on Mac-hating Windows user on the same page as a glowing review of Apple’s amazing new Mac Pro workstation (VNC-8/28/06).

The First Baptist Church of Watertown, NY has fired a female Sunday school teacher, citing Timothy 2:11-14, which says, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” Mary Lambert had taught Sunday school for First Baptist for 54 years. (Leonard Pitts, Jr., VNC—Ventura County Star 8/28/06) – Isn’t it strange how much Timothy sounds like an Islamic fanatic? And people wonder why I have no positive interest in religion! I can’t think of a better example to support my belief that the chief threat to the future of America isn’t Islamic fundamentalism, but rather Christian fundamentalism, or rather religious fanaticism in general. You have to wonder if these so-called Christians have ever actually bothered to read the words of Christ in this book from which they are so fond of quoting.

The cost of going West

August 31, 2006

So here in the land of $750,000 “starter” homes, and $500,000 “fixer-uppers,” it’s easy to get nervous when you see reports of home starts falling by 4.3% (LAT 8/25/06). The housing market is definitely cooling off. One can only hope it isn’t yet the first stages of the impending California property collapse that has the potential to destroy the American economy and make the great depression look like the 1980s. It’s basic economics and demographics folks, and it is going to happen—sure as the Big One. To start with, consider that California real estate values were in line with the rest of the country for 120 years–because land is land, and land without water isn’t worth more no matter how good the views are. That’s right, clear up to the 1970s, even throughout the massive California population boom of the 1950s, housing costs in California were within a few percentage points of housing costs in Iowa. What changed? In the 1970’s two populist political movement took control of the California real estate market: rent control and growth control – and within two—yes, only two—years, housing costs in California started to out pace the nation by double digits. (See Excluded Americans, William Tucker) Of course, developers and California’s existing landed gentry didn’t complain, they were making out like bandits, and getting to masquerade as caring environmentalists in the process. It was the next generation that had to pay the bill, once California’s housing costs passed 200% (and still climbing) of national average. These poor folks are now spending over half their incomes for housing on which their parents and grandparents had often spent as little as 10% (see Discovery of Freedom, Rose Wilder Lane). So where is the bigger problem? It’s in the demographics. The largest portion of the American population consists of the Baby Boomers, which were the last generation to get a toehold in California real estate—and they are now getting up there in years. When they pass on (on the tail of their parents, who are a bulk holders of California real estate) and all those homes suddenly come onto the market at the same time, the value of California real estate is going to plummet, leaving all those in the younger generations who are holding interest-only mortgages facing certain bankruptcy. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of families going bankrupt all at once. And of course, they will all be lobbying for a bailout, a bailout that will make the Savings and Loan bailout of the last century look like a Republican homeless handout. Guess who’s going to be left holding the bag? It’s you, the rest of America. Californians will have gotten a free ride in Eden for the last 50 years, and you, your children, and grandchildren are going to be presented with the bill. It will be a generational transfer, like the looming Social Security collapse—only with a geographic insult added to the injury.

Wonderful world

August 31, 2006

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ “How do you do?”
They’re really saying “I love you”

I hear babies cryin’, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Oh yeah

–WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD (George Weiss / Bob Thiele)