Link Roundup, June 2, 2016

From Marginal Revolution: Fertility rates in India have declined to the replacement level.

From US Census: While family sizes have declined, average new US home now tops 2400 sq.ft, up from 1500 in the 70’s.

From Vox: What a machine ‘sees’ when it watches Blade Runner.

From Atlas Obscura: Why Canadians talk funny.

From Scientific American: Microsoft is testing DNA as a storage medium.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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75 comments on “Link Roundup, June 2, 2016
  1. flypusher says:

    The GOP integrity test: Chris aced it, the Bushes managed a passing grade, Ryan is the latest to flunk it. Next up, Gov. Martinez of NM:

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/06/trump-wants-martinez-endorsement-223859?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link

    If you tell the thin-skinned vulgarian where he can stuff that endorsement, you get bonus points, Guv!

  2. Crogged says:

    Then there’s this.

    http://www.vox.com/2016/6/1/11827024/universal-basic-income

    Below we have discussions of unions and the ‘average’. If you replace the word ‘average’ with ‘adequate’ do you view your own employment differently, I am an adequate employee?
    Certainly most who write here must be above average employees because you write better than most emails I receive at work.

    I am a liberal because I don’t care who you sleep with, but the fascination with unions escapes me. Unions are ‘management’-fuck both of them.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Well, welcome back, Bud!

      To your question, I didn’t use either word. When you come to define your entire career and performance as “good enough”, you’re doomed – or at least doomed to be average, or at best, mediocre.

      And I submit to you, you are a ‘social liberal’. (So am I, of course.) In order to be a *real* Liberal, you need to get on the labor bandwagon! (No true Scotsman, you.)

  3. Crogged says:

    Haven’t been here in a while (Trump/Clinton-yawn), but two links. First one

    http://www.golfdigest.com/story/dan-jenkins-vs-john-feinstein-the-utterly-outrageous-golf-digest-political-blog

    Dan Jenkins is funny, but I don’t know if he’s secretly trying to destroy support for Mr. Trump or if my father in law moonlights as Dan Jenkins. When someone says things for us have been so awful the last 8 years-compared to……what you talked about before 2008? Whomever wrote this crystallizes how I’ve viewed what is portrayed in the media as ‘angry disaffected voters’…..it’s really an over representation of grumpy old white men.

    • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

      Sadly, most of the guys I play golf with are Dan Jenkins-ish.

      Jenkins may at times be funny, but he’s also a racist, sexist, backwards-thinking blowhard who cannot get past his own self interest to even see another person’s shoes, much less walk half-mile in them.

      • Crogged says:

        Yea, tis true, but golf is magic for me. The racist asshat becomes human for a few hours and I’ve understood a little more about them. If we were devious, golf would be free on election day-that would really help skew the Texas vote.

  4. Rob Ambrose says:

    Well, uh…this is pretty damning.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/06/02/trump-university-s-star-student-it-was-a-con.html

    Those “former students” at Trump U whose positive reviews were his “proof” that Trump U was legit say they were coerced. Several lost their life savings.

    And those are the POSITIVE ones.

    How anybody can think this guy would make a good president is beyond me.

  5. Tom D says:

    The Verizon strike got settled. Workers got 11% pay raises and did not have their pensions cut.

    Unions get criticized pretty heavily on this website, but I’d just say this: If you were an average worker at Verizon, would you rather be a union member, able to collectively bargain and strike if necessary to protect and improve your wages and working conditions, or would you rather be a non-union worker and let the CEO unilaterally cut your pension or outsource your job? The answer seems obvious to me.

    Article on the terms of the settlement: http://nytimes.com/2016/05/31/business/verizon-reaches-tentative-deal-with-unions-to-end-strike.html

    • goplifer says:

      It is obvious, until your job disappears because the company craters. Economics is relentless.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        But there’s a huuuuuuge gap Chris between appropriate Union goals and the kind that bankrupt companies.

        Unions are not some anarchist groups just trying to destroy companies for its own sake. Any company “destroyed” by Union demands has no one to blame but the company management for agreeing to deals that COULD bankrupt the company. It’s the unions job to get the most they can out of a company, and it’s the companies job to get the most they can out of the workforce. You can’t blame the Union for asking, it’s the company that agreed to a poison pill labor deal.

        Unions cannot strike indefinitely anymore then companies can shut down indefinitely. The joint need for the company to continue in a healthy fashion is enough to ensure that neither side would be likely to reject reasonable offers long term. If either side ends up holding out long term, it is reasonable to assume that what Is being offered is NOT reasonable, by proof of its own existence. If that makes sense.

        My point being: unions still serve an important function in our economy (even though it’s easy to envision a future where they aren’t, we aren’t there yet). The fact that they CAN be destructive if taken to the extreme is no reason to view them as bad. The same could be said of capitalism, or democracy.

      • Creigh says:

        Economics doesn’t make your job move to China, decisions by economic policy makers do. And fifty, whether we choose or not, fifty percent of us are below average.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Creigh – Of course economics moves your job to China! What are you talkin’ about. And I said it’s OK to be average. You’ll be fine. Not great, but fine.

      • Creigh says:

        What I’m pushing back against is the idea that “economics” makes decisions like free trade, tax policy, right to work, outsourcing, and so on. People make these decisions. The idea that “there is no alternative” is wrong. These are choices which have been made. There were alternatives.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Creigh – In order: ‘free trade’ vs. restricted, protectionist trade. ‘Tax policy’, vs. what? No tax policy? ‘Right to work’, vs. forcing people to join and pay dues to private clubs? ‘Outsourcing’ vs. keeping production in locations that result in production costs so high the producer fails? Economics and, frankly “fairness” makes these decisions. Just what were the ‘alternatives’? Forcing union membership on otherwise free workers? Trade wars, smuggling, and non-participation in the global trade network? Companies simply moving off shore, lock, stock, and barrel?

        Yeah, there have been ‘alternatives’, and they all really, really, suck. Business and economics aren’t some altruistic parlor game for tea-sipping do-gooders to pontificate about. It’s hard reality. “It’s relentless”.

      • Creigh says:

        Lets not play the excluded middle game (“tax policy vs no tax policy”).

        With any policy, there are winners and losers, unintended consequences and collateral damage. The people who are making these policies blame “economics” for decisions that they have consciously put in place. This is an attempt to shift blame for the unintended consequences and collateral damage that may result. I’m not willing to let them get away with that.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Sounds like arm-waving to me. Examples, please?

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        So as Chris says “economics is relentless” and fifty says “Companies simply moving off shore, lock, stock, and barrel?” its all natural, hard, but that is the way it goes. So if I say “squeeze the management with all you got boys while you can. Because we are in for it anyways!” That just the way it goes. Eff them, and them.

        That’s nature. Both sides are equally right or equally wrong, takin what they can, when they can.

      • fiftyohm says:

        unarmed – No. Both sides are not “equally wrong”. Economics are indifferent to the wants of labor. *Or management*. Employees “squeeze management for all they can”, and very soon they’re un-employees. That’s not opinion, that’s fact. Let me ask you something: would you buy a car for 50% more, with the sole purpose of it including 100% US content? If you say “yes”, you’re not being honest, and to be honest with you, such a thing is not even *remotely possible*. The economy is globalized, whether you like it or not. Business has to make money whether you like it or not. Massive swaths of supplies for everything we need and rely on are produced in regions of the world remote from here for many reasons, not the least of which is labor costs.

        If you want to call that “nature”, well then OK. I call it reality. Rail against it all you like. Good luck to you.

        With that my dear friends, I must retire. I’m an hour ahead of ya’ll!

      • duncancairncross says:

        For every company “cratered” by “the union” you can find several thousand “cratered” by bad management
        If not tens of thousands!

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        fifty – I think you missed my point. You say, pardon if I’m wrong. “The company that just moves its call center off shore to save money is not wrong. A company must take cost saving presented to them to stay in business. We must maximize short term profit. Workers may be hurt financially, but, gosh that’s just the law of economics.” This is the way it has to be, the “invisible hand”, the god given right of companies to do what is best for themselves. To do otherwise would be sinful.

        However, the group of employees at another call center organizes and tries to prevent a move, and asks for more money. This group is going against nature. This group will cause the company to move off shore. This is definitely the devils work. (Sorry about the religious references, just trying to make point.)

        Can you not see that if the only choice the worker has is dropping his/her wage to the lowest in the world or losing his/her job to that low wage country, there is no sin in organizing and maximizing his short term wages?

        The question is, is the worker held to a higher standard that the employer?

        And which side should be held responsible for answering these questions? Really, why should there be sides? After all, American company, American worker.

        There probably is an answer other than the above binary way of seeing things, that will be the way out of this.

      • Creigh says:

        Examples abound. When Carrier moves jobs to Mexico, this was the result of legal and business decisions by a large number of discrete individuals, conscious and deliberate. When states pass right to work laws, this is deliberate. When Congress decides that student loans cannot be discharged through bankruptcy, when the Supreme Court limits the rights of workers to bring class actions, and upholds the rights of corporations to impose arbitration on consumers, when the tax codes enable stepped-up-basis for inheritances, all these things are not “economics,” they are things that were actively done.

      • Creigh says:

        Fifty, the things you talk about may be right or wrong. That’s part of a larger conversation we should be having. And we shouldnt allow it be deflected by blaming “economics.” The powers that be are doing things that have collateral damage to large classes of people, and they’re saying “Dont blame us, it was economics.” No, it was them.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Frankly, the Verizon case is proof that unions are still an essential part of our economic system. It’s a textbook case.

        I don’t understand why companies must be protected from making their own bad decisions (no Union deals have ever existed without also being agreed to by the company) by hobbling organized labor.

        That kind of handicapping seems very unamerican and anti capitalist. If a company is stupid enough to agree to a labor deal that isn’t properly stress tested and ends destroying them, then maybe they’re not smart enough to exist? It’s not up to the Union to look after the interests of management anymore then it is management’s job to look after the interests of the Union. It’s called a negotiation.

        Frankly, the company will ALWAYS have a negotiating advantage due to the relative mobility of a company compared to a worker. Companies can move a lot easier then an entire work force, which means the company always has inherent leverage over the union, even in a situation where the law treats both exactly equally (which they dont).

        If companies with this inherent leverage advantage, as well as the various legal/political advantages STILL can’t negotiate a deal that wont bankrupt them, then they are frankly incompetent, and it’s better they die so that a smarter company can take its place, according to the classic theories of free market capitalism: if you can’t compete (and that includes competing in the labor market) get out of the way for someone who can.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Unarmed – forgive me if I’m putting words in your mouth, but it seems like your basically saying

        “how can it be that companies acting in their best interests is the natural, organic nature of economics, but somehow, organized labor doing the same thing is unnatural, evil and immoral.”

        If you are, I totally agree. To me, the demonization of unions is just the same ol thing of the rich and politically connected using the media and politicians to ensure they have the biggest advantage possible.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Duncan – I don’t think I said many companies are ‘cratered’ by unions. It’s not that dramatic. Jobs just tend to move where the labor is less costly. Indeed, most companies fail due to a bad business model, and quite quickly after startup.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Labour less costly…

        I will share a story that very nearly got me the sack
        My plant the Cummins Darlington (England) plant was considered the most expensive of Cummins engine plants (I was Quality Manager)
        We paid the shop floor guys 12 pounds an hour
        The US operations paid about 7 dollars an hour
        I did a bit of analysis
        Compared to the US plants my plant did cost more in labour –
        But our quality costs were so much lower than the US plants that we were cheaper overall!

        Hoo Haa – did that cause a stink – that report was buried so deep! and I very nearly lost my job!

        My skilled well paid work force were simply so much better than a work force on just above minimum wage with a 30% annual turnover

        In my experience a lot of management decisions are taken by people who don’t look at the big picture and end up costing dollars to save cents

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        “Jobs just tend to move where the labor is less costly”

        I mean, sure, if course labor costs are one factor a company will consider when making these decisions. There are also other ones, including (but not limited to) local government, local/state/federal tax regime, education/health of local labor force, geographical location, proximity to specific cities etc etc.

        There are all kinds of factors companies consider when they weigh the decision to relocate or offshore jobs. And those are the companies prerogative to do so. I don’t see how it’s labors burden though to work for less then they think they’re worth in order to make things easier for the company. That’s not how this works.

        The unions job is to get as much as they can. If they repeatedly and consistently make unreasonable demands, then they’ll be the one who suffers in the end as that makes it far more likely the company WILL offshore jobs. To demonize or legally hamstring unions though, under the guise of “protecting” them is disingenuous, morally wrong, and frankly unamerican.

        Remember too that even in this interconnected world, by no means is every location fungible. China has one major advantage – cheap labor – but there are also some major advantages to being located in America too, and for many companies, the aggregate of benefits of being here outweigh the one major benefit of being elsewhere (namely labor).

        It’s all moot anyways, as we become increasingly automated, even Chinas current big advantage will disappear. If your going to use robots to build your widgets anyways, you may as well build them in Canton or Poughkeepsie near the major markets where those goods are going to end up anyways.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Rob
        Re- cheap labour in China
        No – not for a while!
        If you want a rice farmer – yes you can get him/her cheap
        If you want somebody who knows one end of a spanner from another……..

        Emie skilled labour in the Chinese coastal cities has been more expensive than here in NZ for about the last 5 years

      • fiftyohm says:

        Unarmed – Unskilled or semi-skilled labor is a commodity. As a ‘worker’, you have a ‘labor mine’. You dig it up, and you sell it for the best price you can get. Yes, that’s ‘natural’ as you say. No one would in fact say otherwise. Now if I need ‘labor ore’, and can get it at a much better price from a few states away, even after I consider the transportation charges, I by it from the other mine. Heck – do you pick the highest price for air travel, or on Amazon?

        The higher your skill level, the rarer the ore, and the fewer mines there are. It’s more difficult to find cheaper suppliers, or the transportation costs outweigh the benefits. And all is right with the world.

        Now, when a ‘labor mine’ decides to arbitrarily jack up the price of their commodity without looking at what nearby mines are getting, or what transportation costs are, they lose business. I guess that’s ‘natural’ too, but it’s dumb.

      • fiftyohm says:

        RobA – Your last post was spot on. I agree completely.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Creigh – Much of the legislation you spoke of is indeed driven itself by economics. Stifling regulation, taxation, and labor environment harm the economic environment. (Take a look at Illinois, of you need an example.)

        If you don’t buy an overpriced domestic car because it’s too expensive, you can say it was you who made the decision, but that decision was rooted in economics.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Rob – Yes, well said.

        fifty – Not really trying to get the last word.

        I understand that the more rare the skill set, the more valuable the worker unit and less likely to be replaced. This fact only reinforces the need for collective bargaining for those at the bottom end of the skill ladder. After all, how do you determine a fair wage for a job that many can do and there is always someone waiting for your job?

        Every day there are outcomes in the free market that have all kinds of inputs, including stupid management, wise management, acts of God, tech disruption, whatever. And the “FreeMarketWorshipers” shrug and say “That is what the market wanted”. When a business pressures a supplier to lower prices, or offshores his workforce, that is just good business sense.

        But if a small supplier(of labor) tries to improve his position in the market place, he is driving himself and the company toward mediocrity. And sinning again the FreeMarket religion.

        This is the last word. word.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Tom D – Frankly, I’d rather not be an “average worker”. That, in a nut shell, is the problem. Great and highly successful companies do not have “average workers”. Wanna be average, fine. Go work for an average company and in a union shop. You’ll be fine.

      • TheMeansAreTheEnd says:

        When a company is making record profits, how does fighting for a decent wage (not to mention keeping your pension & the right to not be moved arbitrarily around the country) create a risk that your job will disappear because the company craters? The relentless economics in this case is to increase profits by squeezing the workers. It’s funny that negotiating prices is an approved capitalist behavior except when it is workers negotiating the price of their labor.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        “Frankly, I’d rather not be an “average worker”. That, in a nut shell, is the problem. Great and highly successful companies do not have “average workers”. ”

        I’m pretty sure Tom meant “average” from a statistical standpoint, not in any way referring to the skillset of any one worker.

        There’s an “average runner” in the 100 m dash at the Olympics, roughly somewhere between the guy that finished 10th and the guy that finished 1st. Of course, nobody would call that guy, overall, “average”.

        I think you totally missed Tom’s point.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Means – Who said workers can’t negotiate the price of their commodity? If a company needs labor, and doesn’t negotiate successfully for it, they’re in trouble. If labor demands a price not competitive with other regions, they’re in trouble too.

      • fiftyohm says:

        RobA – I don’t think I did. Unions are about mediocrity. You’ll find damn few Olympians among the union rank and file.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Fifty, I get what you’re saying. I don’t think unions CAUSE mediocrity, although they definitely sometimes protect it.

        But that’s just how it works. The Union demands that protect mediocrity are not DESIGNED to protect mediocrity, but are generally designed to protect things deserving of protection (such as worker complaints about safety, management abuse, sexual harassment etc). The Union rules are, by design, expansive (otherwise they wouldnt protect the legitimate interests they’re supposed too) and this inevitably will have some unintended consequences, such as protecting some mediocrity.But we don’t throw out the babyb ith the bath water because of it. It’s like while SOME ppl commit welfare fraud, the majority of ppl on it actually need it. Do we scrap the entire system and just let everyone fend for themselves because a tiny minority commit fraud?

        Frankly, much of the necessity for unions would be gone if Big Business didn’t have a history if abusing, exploiting, firing without cause workers again, and again, and again, and again.

        Workers NEED basic protections. We all agree a worker should never be fired because she won’t have sex with her boss, or voices concerns about safety issues on the job site, or whose boss is involved in illegal activity or any number of hypothetical scenarios. And the nature of reality is such that in order for these protections to be expansive enough to have any efficacy, they will also be expansive enough to protect a dlfew workers who don’t need it deserve protection.

        This is a goid thing, not a bad thing. In the overall aggregate, the benefits from these protections far outweigh the negative.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Rob –
        Absolutely spot on!
        As I have said earlier if a company is properly and fairly managed the union becomes the body that organises the annual company trip to Blackpool (or whatever the local equivalent is)

      • fiftyohm says:

        RobA – Duncan and I had a good exchange on this topic last week. To summarize: unions are inherently anti-meritocratic. This isn’t, I suppose, by design, but rather of necessity. Pay and benefits are flat throughout the organization by contract. Performance enters the picture only in extreme cases – not on the average. That’s the issue.

        Most of the issues you just mentioned, sexual harassment, safety, fair employment practices, and others are covered by statute in every state. Unions are redundant in this regard.

        And the bad? Tell me what you think is the major force behind the cover ups and protection of violent cops? Or lousy teachers? This blanket protection of *all* members comes at a price. Sometimes it’s very high.

        Unions are dying. There’s a reason for that. They remain deeply entrenched only in the public sector where they themselves are protected by statute, and their services aren’t largely transportable – “fungible”, as you say.

        And you really shouldn’t capitalize “Big Business”. Small business comprises the bulk of our economy, and dominates its growth. https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/FAQ_Sept_2012.pdf So-called ‘big business’ happens to have the bulk of private sector union workers for historical reasons – certainly not business or economic ones.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Fifty

        “Pay and benefits are flat throughout the organization by contract. Performance enters the picture only in extreme cases – not on the average. That’s the issue.”

        YES
        But that is NOT because of the union
        Unions negotiate MINIMUMS – always that is there job

        The problem is that MANAGEMENT should be maintaining the optimum structure – instead the are penny wise and pound foolish and they allow the structure to slip

        When I joined CAV as a graduate engineer a section leader was paid twice as much as a raw graduate

        When I left 14 years later as a section leader I was paid 20% more than a raw graduate

        The market place set the costs of recruiting new engineers – but it was management’s job to keep the structure in place to reward the existing people
        It was great fun working there!
        But I nearly doubled my wages when I left

        It was managements task to maintain the structure – not the unions
        Unions negotiate MINIMUMS

        Instead the management penny pinched their technical advantage away

  6. DNA as a data storage medium is not a particularly new idea, but it does appear to be approaching reasonable practicality. The espionage applications are particularly interesting. Imagine China’s deepest, darkest secrets transmitted via… a sneeze. Or maybe the yeast sediment at the bottom of a bottle of homebrew. Or encoding and storage via retrovirus, such that the messenger literally *is* the message. Kinda makes one wonder about all that “junk” DNA in our genome…

  7. unarmedandunafraid says:

    My guess is that US housing size and cost has been increasing for several reasons. And the biggest reason is the tax deductions for mortgage costs. It is seen as a discount on owning a house so you may as well get as large a mortgage as you can. (Not saying this is a wise way to arrange your finances.)

    Buyer preference (vanity?) may be next but builders profit maximization plays a large part also. Some buyers specify exactly what they want in a house but most buy an already built house in a plan laid out by the developer. The builder tries to hit the sweet spot for a house that will sell.

    A new development is designed to maximize profit, naturally. That is why, in my area, new houses have smaller front yards and long back yards. This is to minimize the road paving, water and sewer lines etc, per unit.

    In essence the builder decides what type of housing we have.

    And then there is local government zoning. Which sometime contributes to the above problems with unintended consequences.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Interestingly, housing prices per square foot have been amazingly flat in constant dollars since the early ’70s. Likewise, the mortgage deduction has pretty much always been there. http://taxfoundation.org/blog/history-mortgage-interest-deduction

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        fifty – that link was interesting. I didn’t know that all interest was deductible in the early days.

        Today the home mortgage interest is a rare deduction that an individual can claim. So it looms large in the mind of the taxpayer.

        I contend that it distorts the housing market. More importantly it is a regressive part of our taxation scheme.

        I think we should give it up when we do the tax reform thing.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Another thing, it’s upside down. When I was young and had kids, I could only afford a small house. By the time I could move up into a larger house, my kids were going off to college and starting their own lives.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Unarmed,

        Most countries used to have the mortgage deduction – I used it on my first house in the UK

        But most countries have dropped it – for exactly the reasons you mentioned

    • Fads mostly don’t require logical explanations.

      My beloved and I moved into a new Katy development in 2007, one of those with drainage control “lakes.” We purchased a pleasant lot on the lake and had to get special dispensation from the developer to put in a single story home of *only* 2,800 sq. ft.; most homes in the neighborhood are 4,000+ sq. ft. We have the smallest home on the water. Frankly, we’d be quite comfy in something half the size. Well, at least we have plenty of room for sleepovers. 🙂

      • texan5142 says:

        These are not the lakes you are looking for. The bigger the house, the harder it is to keep clean…and to heat and/or cool. I am living in a four bedroom house , I just can’t give up the location or the privacy, otherwise I would like to go minimalist.

      • vikinghou says:

        Good idea. As we get older, one story homes make sense. Multiple floor homes will not be feasible unless they feature an elevator or a stair lift. So much new construction inside the Loop has 3+ stories. If I was 25 y/o maybe, but not today. Houston code instructs that any dwelling with 4+ stories must have an elevator shaft.

    • fiftyohm says:

      No – because the more chutzpah expended, the greater the demand for more chutzpah – at any price. (This is something I read about somewhere, about something else. Can’t remember right now…)

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Not just chutzpah Fly, but lunacy.

      I mean, I realize the Twitter format prioritizes abbreviated words and thoughts, but that is one clustermuck of a communication.it literally reads like he connected his Twitter acct directly to his inner monologue, and then forgot about it.

      “When the case is won, I’ll get Trump U back open. I will be Pres! I’m kinda hungry. Wonder what’s for lunch? Oh look, a squirrel!”

      • flypusher says:

        There’s also the matter of his blatant lies, that latest one being him accusing HRC of lying in saying that Trump wanted Japan to get nukes. Except there’s video of him saying just that. Is this short attention span or a bad memory or the result of not ever being held accountable or figuring no one will care or all of the above? It astounds me how much blatant lying he’s so far gotten away with, although that worm by finally be turning. He wants us to feel sorry for him because the press has the gall to question him. To quote a former holder of the office he seeks: “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the #%£€¥$& kitchen.”

        Dude is the poster child for much higher inheritance taxes.

  8. vikinghou says:

    Concerning the DNA storage medium, I had the crazy thought of swallowing a DNA pill and instantly becoming a world class expert in astrophysics. I think this topic has already been covered in a sci-fi novel but I can’t remember which one. 😉

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      The Matrix had all knowledge as software. Want to learn karate? Download the software into your brain port.

  9. fiftyohm says:

    No ‘Enery ‘Iggins I, but the regional accents within Canada are very interesting and distinguishable; excepting Newfoundland, a patois barely comprehensible to these traveled ears, The BC accent is quite different than say, the Ottawa Valley where the word “potato” is pronounced “beh day duh”.

    As for that other word, I simply substitute “approximately”. I do get strange looks when asked where I’ve been, and I respond, “Out and approximately.”

    • vikinghou says:

      I always have a great time when I visit Canada. I most often have visited Alberta because I worked in the oil and gas industry. I’ve also been to Nova Scotia because of the offshore drilling platforms nearby, and the locals there have a particularly charming accent. I could move to Halifax in an instant. Absolutely beautiful there.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Canada is indeed a very beautiful place, and populated by wonderful people. All things have warts, and we need to be aware of that wherever we are, but I can tell you that we’ve never looked back on the decision to spend half our lives here!

      • vikinghou says:

        I agree. In that case, will you sponsor me as a refugee if Trump is elected this November? 🙂

      • fiftyohm says:

        You are always welcome, Viking! But alas, we’re not permanent residents, and so far as I know, we are not related!

        The ‘Trump question’ is probably the one most asked of us up here. I replay, “It just ain’t gonna happen.” (In my best Texas drawl.)

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Halifax is my hometown, my parents still live there so I go back a few times a year. Someday, I hope to be back for good, it truly is beautiful. A lovely harbor town that’s right in the sweet spot between not too big and not too small

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        I get up to Calgary very often (for my oil and gas friends), and I love it up there. I took my wife up there (smartly in the summer) to spend some time at Lake Louise and Banff, and it was just lovely. Aside from it being pretty, we were able to get in a full round of golf starting at 6:00pm before sunset after 10:00pm.

        I casually mentioned, “You know, it wouldn’t be hard to talk me into living up here”, to which she responded, “You’ll be living up here by yourself”. She doesn’t like the cold, and she’s smart enough to figure out that the weather in July was not the same weather they have in January.

        We had two absolutely perfect weather days in Lake Louise, and i think it is one of the prettiest places in the world.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Hey RobA! Do you talk funny? (Vee hef vays of making you pronounce your ‘oohs’.)

      • fiftyohm says:

        HT – There’s a very real ‘darkside’ sunsets at 10 PM. And you know what that is – six months later. I don’t mind cold weather at all. In fact, I really do prefer it to heat. (I abhor sweating.). It’s the dark that gets this cowboy.

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        50 – I’m with you about the dark side through the winter. I kind of freaked out the first time experienced dusk at 3:30pm.

  10. Stephen says:

    I live with the wife in a home of about 1500 square feet. Half of the house is unused and just stores junk. I have trouble understanding why people want such expensive monstrosities as McMansions. Historically houses are not a good investment either. The first half of the 2000s was an aberration, caused by monkey business on Wall Street. Real Estate historically just matches inflation.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      It’s kind of an investment class all on its own though, isn’t it?

      I think the logic is, you’re going to spend X amount per month on housing regardless of where you live. So if you MUST spend money on housing, then getting a mortgage and having the payments go towards your equity is, in a roundabout way, sort of a “free” investment vehicle.

  11. Michael Cohen says:

    I suspect a big part of the single-family-home numbers is restrictive zoning. As cities urbanize, you get areas where the local voters vote fight against urbanization, and the result is restrictive zoning. At that point, the land appreciates to the point where the house itself is almost an afterthought.

    • Stephen says:

      In highly sought out areas in Central Florida old house are bought only to demolish and replaced with modern houses because no more land is available in those desirable neighborhoods.

    • vikinghou says:

      I live in the Willow Meadows neighborhood in Houston. According to the assessor, my house (2100 sq. ft.) is worth less than the land upon which it sits. A friend of mine has a little house in Bellaire. According to the assessor, his dwelling has a negative value. In other words, the property would be worth more as a vacant lot.

      • flypusher says:

        Some grad-school friends of mine have one of the few remaining really small and old houses in West U. When they took out the mortgage the bank people couldn’t wrap their minds around the fact that they weren’t going to tear it down. Not everyone wants or needs a huge house. My 1800 sq ft starter house is actually pretty luxurious and enough for me to keep up with. Also some of the MacMansions they’re throwing up these days have some very shoddy workmanship; I’ve been getting the scoop from the plumbers, electricians, etc.

  12. Creigh says:

    I love a good regional accent (sadly, TV is killing them). And Canadians may talk funny, but at least they had the good sense to get rid of pennies.

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