You Got to Be Kidding Me!

Finally, a Post That Deserves the Blog Title

Posted in Economics, Snark by Stacy McMahon on September 24, 2008

Not news: US housing prices still falling. News: by 5.3% just in the past month Triple Forehead Slap: The director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency suggests fixing this by …loosening standards so anyone can qualify for a loan!

The housing agency’s director, James Lockhart, suggested Tuesday that mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could loosen lending standards to help more homebuyers qualify for a loan and stabilize the market.



Stoplight Coordination?

Posted in Four Wheels, Snark by Stacy McMahon on September 22, 2008

Here’s a cool idea that will never be allowed in the US:

top light gantries fitted with communications modules can let the car know when the light will turn green. The car then lets the driver know what speed he should maintain in order to pass through the intersection without having to brake for the light and then accelerate again.

Wouldn’t that be nice …but no, I think we all know the prevailing attitude here is that it’s more important to punish people for breaking the rules than to encourage them to find a win-win solution like the above.

And Speaking of Congresspersons…

Posted in Politics, Snark by Stacy McMahon on August 22, 2008

Via the Housing Bubble Blog, Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach) is right down there in the trenches with the little guy when it comes to her mortgage problems. Nah, just kidding:

After Richardson stopped making payments on the home, it was sold to an investor at a foreclosure auction. But the property was returned to Richardson in June, after her bank rescinded the sale.

Being evicted from your home due to foreclosure? No problem, just ask the bank to give you your house back! It’s an incredible public relations move, and just check out this little additional service for our poor innocent:

In another development, Washington Mutual paid Richardson’s outstanding property tax bill of $9,000 on July 31.

I wonder what it takes to qualify for that. No. But the Daily Breeze LOLZes like a champ…

No public records explain why the bank would do that, though it is possible that the tax bill was added to Richardson’s loan balance in a refinancing.

Mr. Clemons, Call Your Office…

Posted in Politics, Snark by Stacy McMahon on May 9, 2007

Mark Twain famously said “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” I concluded awhile ago that reporters and mainstream media folks generally (there are exceptions) land in the better-off-silent camp. Here’s Time Warner exec Richard Parsons removing all doubt (link and inspiration via Instapundit):

“The Googles of the world, they are the Custer of the modern world. We are the Sioux nation,” Time Warner Inc. Chief Executive Richard Parsons said, referring to the Civil War American general George Custer who was defeated by Native Americans in a battle dubbed “Custer’s Last Stand”.

“They will lose this war if they go to war,” Parsons added, “The notion that the new kids on the block have taken over is a false notion.”

You know, I could toss out all kinds of snarky comments here but it’s actually a lot more interesting to consider the real history of the Indian Wars. Leaving aside the morality of that conflict, the Sioux committed the mortal military sin of getting themselves some modern weapons and early upsets and then convincing themselves they were invincible.

That makes it twice as ironic that Parsons chose Custer’s Last Stand as a metaphor for the MSM v. “people media”, since in this case he’s the one closing his eyes and imagining he has magical powers to protect him from the inevitable.

Dumbing Down…

Posted in Environment, Snark, Urban Planning by Stacy McMahon on April 26, 2007

I know that the book says news should be written for consumption by 7th-graders, but come on:

The market share for timber frame construction has more than doubled since 1999 and now stands at 20.5% of all new housing in 2006, although that still only represents around one in five new builds.

Really? 20% = 1 in 5? Wow, who knew? In fairness though, it’s possible the poor reporter just couldn’t help himself after taking down what must have been dozens of quotes like this from his interview subject:

“We expect timber frame housing to expand at about twice the rate of the average for the market, leading to further increases in market share in each of the years to 2009. …

“The recent huge surge in interest from the private housebuilders in low risk, cost effective ways of building zero carbon homes is also likely to enhance the timber frame industry’s prospects in coming years.”

So if the market expands, then the market will expand! Got it, though I’m not sure I get the connection between low carbon homes and woodframe construction. The wood frame by itself has nothing to do with insulating a house — it’s all the other stuff layered over it that does that. Really though, if we want to have the lowest home energy consumption we should all follow Bilbo Baggins’ lifestyle.

In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit!” — J.R.R. Tolkien

Richard Florida Rides Again!

Posted in Economics, Snark, Urban Planning by Stacy McMahon on March 8, 2007

I rarely read, that fount of pedantic, navel-gazing journalism that never forgets its mission to make the Star City relevant to something, anything, outside its surrounding mountain ranges. But this article has several phrases that jump out at me (emphasis added):

Roanoke, if it wants to attract young adults, could benefit from a more “urban feel” enhanced by downtown bars with live music that would appeal to members of a creative work force.


The metro area has some strengths, including quality of education, outdoor recreation opportunities and a clean environment.

But just having streams and trails for recreation isn’t enough; they need to be accessible from neighborhoods, the study said.

The study focuses on five elements of urban living and zeroes in on one need in particular: Roanoke’s social and cultural amenities.


“For the young business people we’re talking about attracting, for making Roanoke a ‘cool city,’ they’re going out on Friday and Saturday nights but I don’t see their activities including live music performances,” Locke said.

Creative, young poeple, live music and outdoor recreation … these are the things picked out by Richard Florida, co-author of The Creative Class, an influential book that suggests older cities need to revitalize their downtowns in order to attract young, affluent people whose entire lives revolve around going out at night. Some cities like Pittsburgh have tried to implement Florida’s ideas, with varying results. The article quoted above doesn’t mention Florida or The Creative Class, just Virginia Tech farm team Roanoke College as the source of the study that reached the shocking and thoroughly non-obvious conclusion that vibrant cities are fun because there are things to do there. I wondered enough to go over to Google though, and sure enough:

It is no secret that many medium size cities like Roanoke,VA are bleeding young adults to more urban areas, especially during the 1990s. Roanoke’s city manager had a vision to be proactive in addressing this important, but not urgent issue, by creating a staff person to implement many of Mr. Florida’s ideas.

I always thought Florida’s approach was somewhat backwards–he basically advocates attracting young adults by somehow creating the cultural institutions that you can only have if the young adults are already there. A retirement community can’t make a techno club, and like many writers on planning, Florida completely ignores the economic fundamentals. Buffalo is already a happening town, but not many people want to move there because the job market sucks. The article does partly get at those things in its focus-free way.

Other cities have advantages that Roanoke lacks, he said. Charlottesville has 20,000 college students who are heavily into liberal arts studies; Richmond is a large city and it has Shockoe Bottom, where bars with live music have been on the scene for many years.

Bars with live music struggle even in Blacksburg, where students outnumber those in Charlottesville but are focused on engineering and technical studies, Locke said.


“It would be a mistake to think creating more music venues and bars would do the trick,” O’Hara said. Those kinds of establishments need to be within the “urban feel” category of being walkable and diverse.

Said Locke: “You have to build the scene, not the venue. We have great venues that are not being supported” by attendance.


Posted in Silly/Funny, Snark by Stacy McMahon on March 7, 2007

Today’s lunchtime theme is “something isn’t right here”, and our first entry comes via Clint’s blog. It’s a heartwarming tale of a chance meeting on an overnight flight. Two strangers in the night; she looked at him, he looked at her, he was overcome coming all over her:

An off-duty Northwest Airlines employee was arrested after a woman on a flight from Seattle complained that the man had ejaculated on her.


The Prince of Whales

Posted in Snark by Stacy McMahon on March 1, 2007

I guess that’s my lousy suggestion for Prince Charles’ new nickname after he told this, er, whopper concerning a Big Mac the other day:

On a tour of a diabetes centre, Prince Charles asked a nutritionist: “Have you got anywhere with McDonald’s? Have you tried getting it banned? That is the key.”

Yeah, now that we’ve solved all other problems in the world, it’s time to ban a hamburger. But wait, there’s more supersized mocking!

Er, no. You see, old chap, if you’re worried about nutrition, it turns out that a Big Mac, according to figures published yesterday, has nothing on one of your own comestibles. A Duchy Originals organic Cornish pasty has 264 calories per 100g, and a Big Mac only 229 calories; a Duchy Originals pasty has 5.5g of saturated fat, a Big Mac just 4.17g.

Any other business owner would know their product well enough to avoid making idiotic public statements about it, but I guess His Royal Highness is too busy for such common concerns. Maybe he’s been using his own product and the arteries to his brain are blocked? Either way, it’s pretty impressive when your food is even less healthy than McDonalds. And coincidentally, I just had a great idea for a documentary. Morgan Spurlock, call your office!

The Wrong Side of The Road

Posted in DCinites, Snark by Stacy McMahon on February 27, 2007

I almost got taken out this afternoon by a vehicle that was definitely not where it should have been. I was doing what I often do on the way home from the office–driving eastbound on Pennsylvania Ave, trying to find someplace to legally make a left and a right to turn around and go west, towards the river. Because there was a lot of traffic, I got pushed past where I usually turn, and reached a spot I’ve only seen once before. In this spot, at this time of day, there is virtually never any oncoming traffic. The last time I came past it, traveling in the left lane, someone pulled out and passed me on the left …yes, in the oncoming lane.

Today when I finally located a good turning spot and put my signal on, guess what. Yep, some asshat pulls out on my left. I spotted him, said wtf and hit the brakes, and heard a scary-yet-satisfying sound of squealing tires from behind me. I finished my turn and went on my way without incident, but I have rarely been that angry at someone else on the road. Amused, blown away, smugly satisfied in my own superiority, yes. But angry–this is a first. I guess I have to just assume people will do something reckless and stupid like that, since that’s 100% of the times I’ve been in that spot and seen them do it.


Look Closely, They Did Something to Hillary…

Posted in 2008 Election, Politics, Silly/Funny, Snark by Stacy McMahon on February 17, 2007

I suppose they might have photoshopped other things too, but hopefully it’s just the ears, because that would mean my dream has come true and someone finally fed Natalie Portman some cheeseburgers!

Let me just take this moment also to say that the people (mainly Libertarians!??) who are suddenly coming out in support of Hillary are smoking teh crack. People, she’s the same old Hillary that tried to nationalize the healthcare industry, you just forgot the details because she’s been out of the spotlight for 8 years.

Just face the ugly truth–there are no good candidates from either party …yet.