Can we get tighter gun control laws yet?

not much to add here

“The U.S. is not the only country in which random acts of gun violence have erupted in seemingly everyday circumstances to destroy lives, families and communities,” Britain’s Guardian newspaper said. “But the U.S. is one of the few countries that seems collectively unwilling and politically incapable of doing anything serious to stop such things happening again.”

“Having the right to have a gun for civilians is completely wrong in a country like America,” said Haji Aziz, 48, a businessman from Wardak province in Afghanistan who said he has three Kalashnikov assault rifles at home for protection but said he will not let his sons use them. “Security is good there, they have well-trained police, they are not in a war zone, so why should they keep weapons at home?”

International community castigates U.S. “gun culture” (Seattle Times)

Seattle real estate mega-post

Hot market woes:
Tactics in place to deter buyers from flipping (Seattle Times)
Finding an apartment is harder — and pricier (Seattle Times)

If flippers can still flip then people must be willing to pay for flipped properties and if it is getting harder to find rentals, then it is still paying off for those apartment-to-condo conversions.

Or is it?
Could it also be that builders are trying to discourage flipping because it is getting harder to sell their inventory? If everything sold, it wouldn’t really matter if there was some flips, would it? Could it also be a sign that the flipping exuberance is getting a little over the top? The final death throes? Could it be harder to find a rental because the housing market is pricing out many more people and it no longer makes any economic sense to buy?

Can Seattle justify it’s housing costs?
When you think of crazy housing costs, you think of New York City, San Francisco, London, Paris, Tokyo and other World Class Cities. Can Seattle justify itself cost-of-living-wise in regards to the other cities? The Seattle Bubble blog doesn’t think so, the Seattle PI doesn’t think so, and neither do I. Having grown up in an alpha world city (Chicago) and lived in a beta world city (San Francisco), I can say that Seattle is not a world city. (Wikipedia page on world cities) Seattle has always struck me as a cross between Pittsburgh (where I went to college) and San Francisco (where I lived right after college). Like Pittsburgh, it is a relatively small town with distinctive neighborhoods separated by geography. Also like Pittsburgh, it is a company town (Microsoft and Boeing vs. PPG and Heinz). Seattle reminds me of San Francisco because of its proximity to nature, location on the water, vistas and large percentage of urban hipsters.

To my mind, it is that company-town thing that most disqualifies Seattle as a world-class city. I can’t swing a cat without hitting a current or former Microsoft or Boeing employee. These companies constantly come up in conversation with any other local. A world-class city is diverse. Seattle is not diverse, and with its current housing prices, it is becoming less diverse over time.

Speaking of jobs
I came across the Seattle Bubble blog this morning. Very cool. On there I found a post from last year that I still find relevant: Let’s Talk Jobs. This post reiterates some of the things that I have been saying and makes some new points as well. We, in Seattle, are constantly told that because the economy is growing and jobs are being created that the we aren’t in a bubble and we shouldn’t expect prices to stop growing EVER.

This, of course, makes absolutely no sense.

The era of the Microsoft millionaires paying extravagant prices of property is over: MS has moved from options to grants (dropping the number of shares granted drastically in the process), MSFT has been flat for seven years (and Vista didn’t help), and they company is capping raises BELOW the cost of living increases from year to year. Microsoft continues to hire into the region, but in much lower amounts than in previous years. Most of Microsoft’s growth is now overseas.

Most of the new jobs being created in the region are IN REAL ESTATE. We are becoming a region whose business it is to make houses to sell to each other, or to refurb and flip existing houses. That is simply and obviously unsustainable.

Will you ever be able to buy a house?
Priced out Forever attacks this fallacy on a national scale.

Right here is where the Catholic church loses me.

from Vatican abolishes the concept of limbo (Seattle Times)

A church decision to abolish limbo has long been expected.

Benedict and his predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, expressed misgivings about the concept. Benedict, when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and the church’s top enforcer of dogma, said he viewed limbo as a mere “theological hypothesis.”

The document published Friday said the question of limbo has become a “matter of pastoral urgency” because of the growing number of babies who do not receive the baptismal rite. Especially in Africa and other parts of the world where Catholicism is growing but has competition from other faiths such as Islam, high infant-mortality rates mean many families live with a church teaching them that their babies could not go to heaven.

I can understand the concept in a religion where scholars are always researching and interpreting the documents of the faith and are continually presenting and debating the meanings.

That isn’t the way the Catholic church (or for that matter, any main-line Christian church that I can think of) works. The church is infallible, the interpretation of the bible via the leaders of the faith is always correct.

So when the leaders change their mind on a central tenant of the faith like this to make it easier to recruit new members, it leads to an existential crisis of faith for everyone. What about those horrified mothers in previous decades whose children died before baptism preventing them from going to heaven. Does this rule change mean that their children actually went to heaven, or are still stuck in limbo, or are in hell?

What hard and fast rule that has been a continual test of belief for the last couple hundred years are they going to change next?

Speaking of Nine Inch Nails

Year Zero seems to be my least favorite NIN record. ho hum. I’d say that I’m getting old, but I’m still younger than Trent, so that can’t be it. There is neither power, grace or density in this record. The production is spare and weak. I’m bummed.

The Lefsetz Letter and Nine Inch Nails

Lefsetz Letter

This guy writes a music industry analysis newsletter. Unfortunately, he writes like I would have when I was in high school. The dude looks to be about 50, so why is he writing about jocks and cheerleaders?

He is some of his penetrating analysis:

Should Jay-Z make another album? Not unless he’s into it for the music.

or from his “analysis” of the new NIN

Think of all the money Trent is leaving on the table. All those kids who’d like to play!

FUCK ‘EM! Who needs them as fans! The cheerleaders and football players more interested in their social status at the high school than with what goes on inside.

Jeezus, what a jackass. Trent Reznor hasn’t left a dime on the table. He ceased to be “underground” the minute his first video appeared on MTV in the early 90’s (or was it earlier). That doesn’t diminish the quality of his output, but the guy has been touring stadiums for over a decade, he’s no secret and he isn’t pretending to be. He’s a business man and his “viral” marketing campaign is just that, A MARKETING CAMPAIGN.

The evil imperial presidency part N of M


Two new articles came out recently that show that the administration is uncowed in their attempts to control the truth and eliminate the perception of dissent.

First of all is this article from the Seattle Times describing how the defense in a 1st ammendment case stemming from the 2005 ejection of a George Bush “town hall” meeting of two people for having a “liberal” bumper sticker on their car is legal because “the president’s staff can lawfully remove anyone who expresses points of view different from his.” (quote from the Times, not the lawyers)

Secondly is this opinion piece, from the New York Times, which makes a convincing argument that the lawyer firing case is really about the perception that the Bush administration was trying to plant that the Democrats have been tampering with elections (possibly to deflect the view that the Republicans have been tampering with elections).

The small record store perspective on how F’d up the industry is


Spinning Into Oblivion
Published: April 5, 2007

The major labels wanted to kill the single. Instead they killed the album. The Recording Industry Association of America wanted to kill Napster. Instead it killed the compact disc.

The article is from a couple of guys who owned a shop in Manhattan. They don’t bring much new to the discussion (the labels put out crappy music, charged too much for it, made it hard to just buy the one song you liked, sued their customers…) but it is good to get that re-confirmed by someone representing a different part of the industry.

If anyone thinks that all of Washington state is filled with ultra-lefties…

Periodically, those of us in Seattle get reminded of the fact that a big chunk of the state feels more in common with our ultra-red-state neighbors to the east than they do with us ultra-red-commies in Seattle.

Gay rights bill for couples passed

The bill passed easily on a 63-35 House vote despite condemnations from conservatives who said the bill was an affront to community values and religious freedom.

Oh yeah, and those conservative freaks on the Eastside trying to recreate Orange County in the forest (well, once forest, now parking lots and housing developments).

BTW, well done Washington State Legislature!