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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I Like This Guy

I decided a long time ago that I want Steve Minor to represent me when my sordid past finally catches up with me and I need a good mouthpiece at that point in time when I get hauled up on charges.

After having read this butt-kickin' he gave the Roanoke Times yesterday, I think I also want him at my side the next time I get into an altercation with some local thugs in the village tavern.

For those of you who are interested in such things, let me just say Steve jumps ugly with the Times over the Attorney General recount.

And a fine bit of work it is.

Never To Be Left To Amateurs

The problem The Roanoke Times has with its editorial page Briefly put ... segment is that its author tries to be witty, wise, and cute all at the same time but is obviously hampered by a complete lack of two necessary attributes - wit and wisdom. If the photos of the editorial staff that appear here are any indication, cute can be ruled out as well. Maybe he or she should go for funny.

Anyway, I thought I'd help the Times out today with its most recent stab at ... whatever it was they were attempting. Here's today's offering in its entirety:
Briefly put...
The Roanoke Times


After the Pakistani Supreme Court last week extended its ban on making and flying kites as a public health hazard, thousands of Pakistanis protested in the streets and demanded the sport's restoration.

Initially opposed by Muslim fundamentalists as a Hindu festival, the court actually put the practice on hold until January because several people fell from rooftops, causing 19 deaths, and 200 were injured during "battles" between kites flying from metal-lined strings.

Legal prudence prevailed over contact sports. (link)
It's always that darn punchline that leaves me feeling let down. The kind of feeling you get when you open the present from your spouse on Christmas morning and you get another pair of jockey shorts. It's a punchline, fellas! Put some punch in it! Add a dash of wit and you have a Briefly put ... worth the ink and dead trees.

How's this sound?
Briefly put...

After the Pakistani Supreme Court last week extended its ban on making and flying kites as a public health hazard, thousands of Pakistanis protested in the streets and demanded the sport's restoration.

Initially opposed by Muslim fundamentalists as a Hindu festival, the court actually put the practice on hold until January because several people fell from rooftops, causing 19 deaths, and 200 were injured during "battles" between kites flying from metal-lined strings.

The Muslim fundamentalists probably have it right, but they've gone after the wrong religion. Hindus have nothing to do with this. The kite-flying craze is a Zionist plot to exterminate the entire Muslim world!

It's genocide by ultra-glide.
Maybe ... I'll ... stick ... to ... my ... day ... job.

Happy Anniversary

Arguably the most incisive and insightful weblog to operate out of the great commonwealth of Virginia is fellow Old Dominion Blog Alliance buddy, er ... buddies, Sic Semper Tyrannis. Want to know what's going on and why? Bookmark the site.

My reason for mentioning SST this morning is this: It's their anniversary. They turned one today. Head on over there and wish them well. And let's all hope they - and their weblog - live long and prosper.

Time To Say 'I Told You So'

Paul Krugman (you may remember him; he's the guy who was paid handsomely to advise Enron before it collapsed) writes columns for the New York Times. I, and most every other blogger in the western world, have beaten up on him on numerous occasions for being about as wrong as one can be, on a broad array of subjects, most particularly with reference to Iraq.

In some instances, one wants to give the guy a break. He is paid to write and sometimes he delves into areas he knows nothing about. And comes across like a complete fool. He's an economist, after all. What does he know about battlefield strategy and geo-political formulations?

But Krugman ought to be held accountable for his pronouncements relating to economic matters. That's why I take the time here to mention something I wrote back in August that referenced an article that included this quote:
That Hissing Sound
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Housing prices move much more slowly than stock prices. There are no Black Mondays, when prices fall 23 percent in a day. In fact, prices often keep rising for a while even after a housing boom goes bust.

So the news that the U.S. housing bubble is over won't come in the form of plunging prices; it will come in the form of falling sales and rising inventory [my emphasis], as sellers try to get prices that buyers are no longer willing to pay. And the process may already have started. (link)
I shot back with this:
Economics 101, Paul. When you take a product to market, it is the market that determines the price at which it will sell. We agree on the fact that there is a disturbing housing bubble in a number of market areas around the country (signified by the fact that prices have risen precipitately in the last few years; an unsustainable rise), but economists will tell you, Paul, that when sales fall and inventories rise, prices will indeed go down (signicantly, that's why it's called a bubble; it bursts, prices decline).

A home is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it (that's why I've always found "property assessment" to be a joke). I could price my property at $74 million but if I can't find a buyer, it's not worth that. In order to determine what it is worth, I'm going to start lowering the price.

That's what will happen when inventories rise. It becomes a buyer's market. (link)
Let's fast-forward to the most current issue of Business Week and an article that targets housing prices in Loudoun County, Virginia.

Bubble, Bubble -- Then Trouble
Is the chill in once-red-hot Loudoun County, Va., a portent of what's ahead?


Psssssfffffft. That's the sound of the air finally leaking from the real estate bubble in Loudoun County, Va. Since 2000 it's been the nation's fastest-growing county, where eager homebuyers always seemed to outnumber happy sellers. Until now.

Bob Semmens, a 60-year-old retired pressman, has heard that sound. After he offered up his 3,000-square-foot colonial, with three acres and a swimming pool, in early July for $759,000, he sat back to wait for the frenzied offers. A year before, houses had remained on the market for just 20 days and were snapped up in bidding wars. But "very few people were even coming out to look," Semmens recalls. After four months, he was about to take the house off the market until next spring. But then he struck a deal -- for $620,000, an 18% price cut.

By October, agents had 2,908 existing Loudoun houses on the market, an increase of 127% over a year earlier. The average time on the market had climbed 62%, to 42 days, since the fall of '04. And in just two months, from August to October, the median sales price for houses dropped from $506,100 to $480,000 [my emphasis]. (link may require subscription)
Inventories rose. Prices plunged. Imagine that.

Now, here's the scary part of this. Paul Krugman was rumored to be on Bill Clinton's short list for a cabinet post back in the dark days. It's not all that difficult to imagine him fitting right in with the likes of Janet Reno and Donna Shalala but this is the kind of thing that weakens the Republic. The economist doesn't know the first thing about the economy.

It would be like Bill Clinton, who loathed the military and wanted to have nothing to do with it, being Commander in Chief. Oh, wait ...

How Cool Is This?

From the New York Times:
Earliest Known Maya Painting Found
By
JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

Archaeologists reported yesterday that they had uncovered a masterpiece of Maya art showing a surprisingly early flowering of the civilization, well before the classical period that began after A.D. 250.

The find, a 30-by-3-foot mural in vivid colors depicting the ancient culture's mythology of creation and kingship, is the centerpiece of a larger mural, parts of which were first discovered and exposed in Guatemala four years ago. New radiocarbon tests revealed the painting to be 200 years older than originally estimated, dating to about 100 B.C.

"In Western terms," said William Saturno, an archaeologist at the University of New Hampshire who is a research associate at Harvard, "it's like knowing only modern art and then stumbling on a Michelangelo or a Leonardo." (
link)
The wonders from the past ...