Friday, July 16, 2004

Denial is a river in Egypt

Real world depicted here. Anyone who thinks incompetent government (which begets incompetent oversight) doesn't matter needs to read it.
U.S. military officials tell NBC News, the unreleased images, show American soldiers severely beating one Iraqi prisoner to near death; apparently, raping an Iraqi female prisoner; acting inappropriately with a dead body; and Iraqi guards apparently videotaped by U.S. soldiers raping young boys.
Those "God Forgive America" bumperstickers are looking more and more appropriate.

As for me, I'll stay here and talk about real estate and hide my head in the sand, thank you very much. Hey,  I'm an American.

So, about that economy...

SF Chronicle says Sayonara, housing bubble (with nice summary at bottom)

Contrarian? time-shifted? extraplanetary? view from The Union AP article in last week or two, "experts say now's the time to buy"

The Daily Reckoning's advice (?!) on how to Make Money Fast:
See how easy it is, dear reader? You don't have to save, or work, or come up with a new invention or write a hit song. All you have to do is buy a house. And you don't need a penny to do it. Nor even much of an income.

Another gem from the Daily Reckoning -
Having gone deeper into debt to purchase McMansions and SUVs in recent years, how do baby boomers intend to spend their golden years? I predict that we baby boomers will turn our McMansions into bed and breakfasts for the increasing number of Chinese and Indian tourists who will be visiting our shores in the next fifty years. And we will provide complimentary shuttle services to our guests with our SUVs. tourism becomes an ever more important segment of Nevada County's economy...

Salon on great big green monster mansions -
Environmentally correct housing has never been more popular. But even the most eco-friendly home may do more harm than good when it is super-sized.

Sarah Susanka and the Not-So-Big House here and here-
When someone buys a Mercedes Benz or Jaguar, they look for quality, comfort, and detail. Size has nothing to do with the appeal of these cars. If you wanted nothing but space, you could buy a truck. Why is it, then, that some people feel compelled to buy huge houses with empty, cathedral-like spaces that offer few comforts of home
We seek with square footage and ever-taller ceilings our notion of home, when in fact the feel we're looking for has almost nothing to do with size. Instead, it resides in a sense of comfort
Owners, saddled with impersonal, cavernous spaces, sometimes wonder what went wrong - why they feel so profoundly disaffected from the very place that is supposed to nurture and satisfy: home.

The current pattern of building big to allow for quantities of furniture with still more room to spare is more akin to wearing a sack than a tailored suit.

Union article on Hunter Black's rammed earth house out on the San Juan Ridge - hands down the most wonderful house I've ever met. I saw it shortly after seeing a house whose designers followed the "we'll make it TWICE as big!" philosophy. The contrast was huge too.

Not the greatest planning - apartments in the middle of nowhere (think Kingsbury Circle out in Alta Sierra?)

PZ Myers' hometown disappears-
Hometown? Kent, Washington. It was a nice little town when I was young, but visibly transformed during my teenage years into a desert of parking lots, banks, and gas stations. Now it's little more than a congested blot in the north-south traffic corridor to Seattle. In a sense my hometown doesn't exist anymore.

Brad DeLong still says "buy more house than you need" - a commenter responds:
I thought capital was supposed to move at the speed of light these days. I'm a little disappointed to hear that in order to maximize my investments I have to be chained to a big wad of matter whether I want it or not. I find it disturbing to think of orchards being uprooted as Americans who just wanted a little house leverage themselves out to the max...

Facing the ordeal of downsizing, with helpful hints on where to put the plasma TV now that you have a meager 1700 sq ft. Talk about deprivation...

Ah, that country air...breathe deep... ("Foothill roads likely laced with asbestos" - analysis of Placer County gravel roads from airplane show serpentine-rich roads, serpentine tends to? often? always? contains asbestos)
Identifying the region's serpentine-covered roads raises residents' awareness of the potential hazard but may not necessarily prompt paving or other measures to cut the risk. Virtually all of the roads identified are private roads, meaning it's solely up to property owners to maintain them, county officials said.

Today's Sisyphus doesn't roll rocks; instead, he faces an eternity of remodeling. Or perhaps moving -
We have always been moving. We will never do anything else. The remaining stuff that's yet to be moved will keep expanding to fill an infinite number of boxes, an unending succession of U-Haul trucks. Only we will change, gradually growing older and more battered and decrepit, until finally we're used up entirely. When this happens we'll be propped up in front of the yard railing, on offer [to] any passersby who think they have some use for our remains.

Another perspective on housing is here. Followed by some lovely examples of comment spam. If there is an afterlife, the people who spew this stuff will be taking the down elevator.

more from the Daily Reactionaryckoning -
We drove by one subdivision after another, the houses getting bigger and bigger. Each one had a grand entrance and a bucolic address. Usually the place was announced with curved brick walls, iron gates, and an Anglican name such as 'Heathmont Downs.' You feel as though you might be entering the grounds of a private lunatic asylum.
"Some of these places are 6,000 square feet and more," explained a cousin. "And some of them are lived in by older couples without children. They don't really need the space. But it's a way to leverage the housing boom. A lot of people think they should buy the biggest, most expensive house they can...

truth? from fiction -
Many citizens set out to buy a house because of an indistinct yearning for which an actual house was never the right solution to begin with, and may be only a quick fix that briefly anchors and stabilizes them but never touches the deeper need, all the while managing to put them in the poorhouse.

Slate on consequences of Calif's Prop. 13
This creates some perverse effects, similar to those of rent control. People stay in big houses they no longer need because moving to a smaller place will mean a huge property tax hit. With these houses off the market, people who do need a bigger place have fewer to choose from and must pay more to get one.

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