América el Hermoso

There was a time, when I was a wee tadpole, when a drive across West Texas or New Mexico meant some talk radio, some fire and brimstone preaching, some country music, and some mariachi.  In fact, on the long drive between my parents home and UT Austin (where I did my undergraduate), I learned to love mariachi because, of those crummy choices on the AM dial, mariachi was the least objectionable

Now…a drive across northern New Mexico while listening to the FM dial has a totally different feel.  One in five stations is evangelical Christian radio, and the other 4?  A mixture of traditional mariachi, Tejana, and talk radio…IN SPANISH!

The southern border of the United States is no longer the Rio Grand, south of Tuscon, or any such thing.  It’s a whole hell of a lot further north, and all those arrogant ‘English First’ nuts better start learning Spanish, because bilingualism is coming for us all…whether we like it or not.

iNews Friday, 10/30/2009

A sampling of this week’s output from the iNews 9000 Turbo wi-fi headline translator—

Headline: Behind the War Between White House and Fox
Translation: Inspectors find poison gas in Beck’s private bathroom

Headline: Northwest Airlines Flight Flies Past Destination
Translation: And yet the luggage arrived on time.

Headline: Obama- Winner of the clean-energy race will lead global economy
Translation: Fox News puts sugar in US gas tank

Headline: Alan Grayson admits he went too far in calling a lobbyist “A K Street whore”
Translation: “I apologize to whores everywhere”

Headline: Lieberman ‘the least of Harry Reid’s problems’
Translation: Any move for cloture will happen Fridays after sunset

Headline: Boeing chooses SC for 787 line
Translation: Mark Sanford- “Boeing is South Carolina’s soulmate”
Translation (Turbo mode): Charleston line already 2 years behind schedule.

Headline: Recovery ends US recession
Translation: Robust teabag sales lead economy’s rebound

Zillow – Real Estate Market Manipulator

So… Are you a homeowner? Have you used to check the supposed value of your house? Do you believe what they tell you? Well I sure as sh*t wouldn’t. Here’s why…

As many of you know The Frogette and I recently sold our San Francisco condo, and although the price wasn’t what we could have made a year earlier, we did well—a combination of buying well below our capacity and a market region that hasn’t completely cratered. But…if Zillow were the definitive guide to our home’s value, not only would we have taken a bath, but the new owner would have realized a 15% appreciation in just the time between when we accepted an offer and today.

What Zillow did was to torpedo their estimate of our condo’s value, dropping it 25% in the 3 month span from Nov 2008 to Feb 2009, with no evidence of a corresponding drop in our area. In fact, when the condo across the hall sold well above market in Mar 2009, Zillow did nothing. They didn’t even count it as a comparable.

Here’s the time-line:

  • Early Jun 2009 – We decide to sell, Zillow’s estimate is 20% below the eventual asking price
  • Late Jul 2009 – The condo goes on the market, Zillow’s estimate is 16% below asking
  • Late Aug 2009 – An offer is accepted, Zillow’s estimate is still 10% below the sale price
  • Late Sep 2009 – Escrow closes, Zillow’s estimate (even with MLS data to the contrary) is still 7% below the sale price (but they’re dragging it up almost daily)
  • Late Oct 2009 – Now… a month since the close of escrow, Zillow finally has their estimate at the sale price, and guess what?  That price is almost exactly what you would get if you drew a straight line across that huge valley on the graph.

It seems pretty clear. Zillow isn’t just reporting real estate prices and statistics, with maybe a zippy algorithm here or there to get a good bead on property values, they are blatantly trying to manipulate the market, for what reason…I have no idea.  You can draw your own conclusions, but we’re very glad that potential purchasers of our condo, paid little or no attention to Zillow, and with good reason I’d say.

Bush motivational speech – Transcript

Fort Worth, Texas
October 26, 2009

Good evening. Tell you what, before we start, why don’t those of you in the back come and fill up some of these opens seats up front here? Come on, lots of empty seats.

Okay, now I can see all your shiny faces. Good evening again, and welcome to my first paid public speaking. Are you ready to rumble? Before I forget, I want to give a special shout-out to the 8,000 of you who won free tickets through 95.9 KFWR The Ranch. “Listeners really win on KFWR.”

I am honored to be invited here today to talk about lessons from my life that can motivate. In other words, life lessons that can motivate you, in your businesses, careers, and personal lives.

Although a lot of the early stuff is kind of hazy, what I do remember is working hard.

The first lesson from my life is that if you work hard, you always win. And let me tell you — I’m a winner. I’ve won every time.

I got into Yale even though I’m as dumb as a stump — because I worked hard. And because of me, Yale had to create a special grade: the E, which they told me stands for Excellent.

I got out of Vietnam but still worked hard serving my country — I earned that free dental work.

Some will tell you I lost my ’78 campaign for Congress, but I think of it as a ‘non-win’ — just sounds better.

I finished six years as Governor of Texas with 152 executions, number one among all governors in recent history. And most of those executions were of guilty people.

And then there was September the 11th, 2001. That was a loss for the United States, it’s true. But in large parts of the world 9/11 is considered a win against America. That’s lesson two from my life: consider other points of view.

Lesson three from my life would have to be good business sense. I started Arbusto Energy, which later got sold to Harken Energy — whew, and managed to sell all my stock in that before it went south.

As a baseball owner, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps by buying a share of the Rangers for $600,000, most of it borrowed, then selling the team and its taxpayer-financed stadium for a huge profit. I’m too bashful to say how much that was — but it rhymes with blourteen boint bline shmillion. Heh heh — pretty good, huh?

This lesson served me in good steed in the last year of my White House when the economy, due to fears of the possible election of Barack Obama, suffered the biggest failure of financial institutions known to man. The situation called for using the fourth lesson from my life — as ye have received, also shalt thou give away others’ money.

So I worked hard, considered other points of view, used my business sense, and then came to the only conclusion possible — I gave them 700 billion of your dollars.

This has been just a preview of all the lessons of my life. You’ll be able to get the rest of them in my forthcoming book, “Lessons Of My Life” By George W. Bush, $34.99, now available for pre-order from Regnery Publishing.

In closing, I hope my life has provided you with the motivation you need to achieve success in your endeavors.

Thank you for your attention, have a nice day, and remember to tip your waitress. Posters, CDs, and “Global War On Terror Global Tour” t-shirts are on sale in the lobby.

Those of you who want to take a picture with me, please form a single line in the center aisle — ten bucks each, cash only.

iNews Friday, 10/23/2009

A sampling of this week’s output from the iNews 9000 Turbo wi-fi headline translator—

Headline: Sheriff – Boy-in-balloon was hoax, charges expected
Translation: 13-week series on TruTV expected

Headline: White House officials to appear on Fox News
Translation: With digitally inserted Hitler moustaches?

Headline: Sheriff – Boy in Balloon Was Hoax
Translation: Up, Up and Away for 3-5 years

Headline: Norwegian Draws Fire over Nobel Choice
Translation: Teabaggers’ kids going as Thorbjørn Jagland for Halloween

Headline (Seattle filter): Conservatives like what they see in Hutchison
Translation: They have seen her birth certificate

Headline: Glenn Beck Now Travelling with Armed Body Guard
Translation: Guard buys uniform – brown shirt, armband, jodhpurs

Headline: Gibbs ramps up Cheney feud
Translation: “He knows what he did”

Headline: New Cheney Taking Stage for the GOP
Translation: Liz Cheney still workshopping her sneer; to have practice heart surgery

Headline: US urges probe of Sri Lanka war
Translation: Get in line, Sri Lanka – line forms behind Bush/Cheney

Headline: Pie Guy Soupy Sales Dies at 83
: Boomer generation is crustfallen

Headline: Optional public option enters health care talks

Rules Car

You can’t have a road trip without a car. So some weeks before we took off, the Frogette and I acquired a new set of wheels.

We figured that, with Saab still not sure that it’ll be a company in a year, we could get a sweet deal. And so we picked up a used 9-3 Sportcombi—Swedish for “wagon” I suppose—at a rock-bottom price. Now I’ve never owned a “luxury” car, and though this thing probably doesn’t compare to your average BMW, it really does have all the bells and whistles. It also has more indicators than a Space Shuttle, more beeps than R2D2, and one additional thing: RULES!

No starting the car when it’s not in park…and your foot’s on the brake. No fog lights (front or rear) unless your headlights are on. (Daytime running-lights are not good enough.) Want more AC…or heat? No problem, but every chance it gets the Saab gets it puts the system back into “auto” mode. No shutting off the headlights period. This car will warn you when you’re going too fast, get too close to a pedestrian (…or a car, or a post, or your garage door…even when it’s open), get too close to empty, unlatch your seat belt, leave a light on, window open, or parking brake un-engaged.

Definitely the Swedes think they’ve got a better way: Socialistic paternalism embodied in a car.

Kvatch, to the bat yurt!

“…Gotham is in trouble.”

Words I never thought I’d utter, but yes it’s true.  You have to understand I consider myself a fairly outdoorsy girl.  I hike, and I love nature, so I thought, “Let’s go to Yosemite and rent a yurt.” Sounds good in theory.  It’s a large, round Mongolian tent filled with all the conveniences of home.  Well, that and BATS!!!  There were 2 bats happily occupying our yurt last night.  We spent 40 minutes chasing them out (and ducking and covering), but found sleep eluded us after that.  Had to change hotels today because at heart I’m just not “bat ready”.

Health care reform would cause kitten to die – Report

A new report is raising concerns about Democratic efforts to reform the national health care system, leading to renewed calls by Republicans to scrap the effort.

The report, commissioned by the insurance industry from accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers, found that competition from a public insurance option will cause a kitten to die.

“The kitten is in a sealed box, which is connected to a pressure vessel containing poison gas,” said Tim Birely, a vice president with the insurance company Guardian.

“The gas is controlled by an electronic valve, which is linked to a feed from CSPAN 2. If Congress passes a public option, it will trip the valve, and the kitten will die a horrible, painful, Democratic Obamacare death. We call on Americans to write their Congressmen and implore them not to kill the kitten,” Birely said.

Birely explained that imperiled kittens are a little known yet vital part of the health insurance industry: “We show ’em to the dogs, so when we deny their claims they don’t try to appeal.”

“The only people it doesn’t work on are lawyers, which is why we need the tort reform,” Birely said.

Oct. 20 Local Interest: Trek on over to the Seattle Mayor Candidate Statements!