Monthly Archives: January 2010

Curmudgeonly Thought

If I were in the CD selling business, and I were concerned about losing sales to things like MP3 downloads, whether legal or illegal, I think I would make it a little easier to open the seal along the top of the CD when folks brought them home from the shops.

Just sayin'….

OK, now to find a band-aid to cover up the puncture in my thumb from stabbing myself with the sharp object that failed to remove the #$&** barcode/title sticker on the top.

Posted in Kultcha | 3 Comments

They Tortured The Truth Too

Foreign Policy, CIA Man Retracts Claim on Waterboarding

Kiriakou, a 15-year veteran of the agency's intelligence analysis and operations directorates, electrified the hand-wringing national debate over torture in December 2007 when he told ABC's Brian Ross and Richard Esposito in a much ballyhooed, exclusive interview that senior al Qaeda commando Abu Zubaydah cracked after only one application of the face cloth and water.

A cascade of similar acclamations followed, muffling — to this day — the later revelation that Zubaydah had in fact been waterboarded at least 83 times.

Now comes John Kiriakou, again, with a wholly different story. On the next-to-last page of a new memoir, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA's War on Terror (written with Michael Ruby), Kiriakou now rather off handedly admits that he basically made it all up.

Even if torture worked occasionally, I'd oppose it on basic moral grounds. It is disgusting and we should be above it. And in the long run, the more we torture our enemies the more they will torture our soldiers and civilians.

But for those who care, the evidence that torture has worked for us is actually pretty crummy.

Posted in Torture | Leave a comment

Gary Farber Is Hurting

Gary Farber writes, Health Care Reform Won't Save Me. In a saga that I bet will end up something like the famous Mathews case (where the local guys keep rejecting the disability application and it takes multiple appeals to get it reinstated), Gary has had his social security disability claim rejected.

The consequences are very serious, and he may be evicted.

Posted in Blogs | 1 Comment

White House Walking Back the Freeze

When is a freeze not a freeze?

When it's unpopular.

(Earlier item: Bletch)

Posted in Econ & Money | Leave a comment

Miami Herald Still Can’t Cover the Housing Mess Properly

The Miami Herald has often been accused of shilling for local real estate interests (they used to buy a lot of ads). Excellent evidence for this accusation, or at least for one-sided local boosterism, can be found on today's front-page, top right, headline, which says in big extra-dark letters: Home sales up as prices stabilize.

The much smaller sub-head begins the clawback to reality: “In December, South Florida home sales continued to rise but prices still went down — although at a slower rate.”

Even so, explain to me how you get that headline about “prices stabilize” from this text:

(Paragraph 4) … Median prices fell just 5 percent in Miami-Dade and 2 percent in Broward in the year-to-year comparison. …

(Paragraph 6) … Realtors say more buyers are perusing property, and some believe prices have stopped their freefall …

(Paragraphs 10-11) Still, median home prices continued to fall, dropping 10 percent in Miami-Dade and 17 percent in Broward compared to November. The figures include only those homes sold by real estate agents.

Condominium sales skyrocketed in December, compared to the same month of 2008 — up 68 percent in Miami-Dade to 766 and 59 percent in Broward to 949. At the same time, median prices fell: down 16 percent in Miami-Dade and down 17 percent in Broward.

(Paragraph 12) …. Nationwide, the picture is different. .. prices rose from December 2008

So in fact the real story is that our prices are still falling more than the rest of the country's. Yet the headline reads “prices stabilize”.

I don't blame the reporter, Ina Paiva Cordle, for the headline, because we all know that editors not reporters do headlines. But I do blame the reporter for who gets quoted in this article:

  • Frank Kowalski, president of Metro Dade Realty in Miami
  • Marla Martin, spokeswoman for Florida Realtors
  • National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun
  • David Dabby, president of the Dabby Group in Coral Gables.
  • Jan Herard, broker associate for Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate in Broward

Is there anyone on that list who doesn't have a financial interest in spinning positive news on home sales and prices? Well, the one person who isn't a realtor or doesn't work for one seems to be David Dabby. So what is this Dabby Group? The Herald doesn't tell us, so as readers we can't find out. Unless we fire up that browser and discover that the Dabby Group does real estate appraisals — something that also benefits from increase in transactional volume, if not necessarily as directly from increases in prices.

Can't the Herald find one independent voice to interview on this subject? There must be one in Miami somewhere. If not, folks, let me be the first to tell you that long distance is very cheap if you use Skype.

Posted in Econ & Money: Mortgage Mess, Miami, The Media | Leave a comment

Sign the Public Domain Manifesto

I've signed The Public Domain Manifesto.

Shouldn't you?

Posted in Law: Copyright and DMCA | 1 Comment

Bletch

This is amazingly dumb: Obama Seeks Freeze on Many Domestic Programs

Not surprisingly the blogs are all over it.

Please tell me that this isn't the first dividend of the Citizens United ruling.

Posted in Econ & Money | 1 Comment