Saturday, May 31, 2008

More, Just for the Advertisements in 1931

Try These Pages -- Especially the Last Shown Here -- Page 330

A Blast From the Past -- Cornell Drama Performance By Mother

Friday, May 30, 2008

General McMaster on Charlie Rose Tonight


Two Letters -- The Buyer (of Real Estate) and the Seller's Response

Excellent Seller's response to a sneering low-ball offer:
Thanks so much for your note. I’m truly glad that you like our home as much as we do. You’re right that my family and I have many great memories of this place, and we hope someday you will, too.
And I just want you to know that I’m not insulted in any way by your offer. The fact is, none of us are very good at buying and selling homes. We don’t do it often, and as much as we know we’re not supposed to let emotions get in the way, it’s hard not to. After all, few people buy or sell anything else as expensive as a home in their lifetimes.
That said, your offer disappointed me. You seem to believe that I’m not aware of how bad things are out there or that I’m in denial. But I do read the headlines, and I priced the house accordingly. I knew I might have to wait awhile to sell it.
I should point out that your data draws on what has already happened in the housing market. Instead, I’d ask you to consider what’s about to happen.
One big reason for the falling prices is that it’s harder to get mortgages. Lenders went from giving money to anyone with a pulse to demanding higher credit scores and larger down payments. All sorts of buyers simply couldn’t make the numbers work anymore.
That may now change. Starting June 1,
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which buy mortgages from lenders and help make it possible for them to lend more money, are loosening restrictions on the sorts of loans they’ll buy in many markets. That is supposed to make it easier for people to buy a home with a down payment of 5 percent, or even less. Many more qualified buyers should mean more bids, and I’m willing to wait to see if it turns out that way.
I know you talked about having choices, but presumably we wouldn’t be engaging in this correspondence unless you liked my home best. Given that, I’d ask you to think about something: How often do you find a place that you can actually imagine living in? Sure, there are a lot of other properties out there. But an increasing number are in foreclosure and probably have problems lurking within the walls. So don’t let fear of a falling market keep you out of a home that you truly want.
It’s probably obvious by now that I’m not going to counter with a particular number. This doesn’t mean that I do not want to negotiate. I’d just like you to consider what I’ve said and see if you find it convincing. In the meantime, other shoppers who are interested in my home now have a price to beat. So thanks for helping me out with that.
Just one more thing. Please take another look at whatever mortgage calculator you’re using and see how your monthly payment will change if you brought your price up a bit. It almost certainly is not going to be enough to break you. But it may be enough to get us to a deal.
I look forward to your reply.
The Undaunted

No! No! John F. Marshall an Inside Trader?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another Wrinkle in Foreclosures

Off the Grid But Plugged In

Charlie Rose Last Night

For those of my readers in the far east, let me know when you want to see this wonderful interview with Edward Albee, with a core clip from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff?"

The Power Grid

Rogers on CNBC just mentioned going to a "digital grid" to enable cars to plug in, so I googled this term and found:

Toes Mingling, A Remembered Foot on Mine -- Good Writing From Roger Cohen -- About That Transformational Year of 1968

That summer of ‘68, I (Roger Cohen, Op-ed Writer for New York Times) was in a vast crowd in London’s sunlit Hyde Park listening to Pink Floyd’s free concert:

One inch of love is one inch of shadow
Love is the shadow that ripens the wine

Set the controls for the heart of the sun!

Right on! Anything seemed possible, even the strange, agreeable sensation of Sarah Sarsfield’s toes mingling with mine. Possibility was that year’s richest legacy, beyond every utopian illusion.

Let's see:

I was 29

Sissy was 27

Genny was born that year

Becca had not yet been born

Dig was many years from "go get the Paaaaper, Dig"

Wrigley was way off from following me around the house, jumping on my lap, as I worked at home, who loved me and acted like a dog in that way

Way, way off from Jan Weyant coming up from the side and gently putting her foot on mine at the Lexington Bridge Tournament, a silent acceptance into the echelons of duplicate bridge

LNG and the Coming Winter

CAMERON PARISH, La. — The cost of a gallon of gas gets all the headlines, but the natural gas that will heat many American homes next winter is going up in price as fast or faster.

Managing Globalization Blog (IHT)
The Natural Gas Plan Goes AwryGo to Blog »

That fact makes the scene in the languid, alligator-infested marshland here in coastal Louisiana all the more remarkable.
Only a month after Cheniere Energy inaugurated its $1.4 billion liquefied natural gas terminal here, an empty supertanker sat in its berth with no place to go while workers painted empty storage tanks.
The nearly idle terminal is a monument to a stalled experiment, one that was supposed to import so much L.N.G. from around the world that homes would be heated and factories humming at bargain prices.
But now L.N.G. shipments to the United States are slowing to a trickle, and Cheniere and other companies have dropped plans to build more terminals.
A longstanding assumption of American energy policy has been that natural gas would be plentiful abroad, and therefore readily available for importation, as production falls off in North America, where many fields are tapped out.
But some experts are starting to question that idea, saying natural gas could be subject to the same explosion in overseas demand that has made oil so expensive.
As it is, the supertankers that were supposed to deliver cargoes of gas from Africa and the Middle East to the United States are taking them to places like Spain and Japan instead, pushing up gas prices and depleting the nation’s stockpiles as the hurricane season approaches.
“A few years ago people looked at L.N.G. as a solution to North America’s gas needs,” said Nikos Tsafos, an analyst with PCF Energy, a consulting firm. “But today we see that there is less L.N.G. around than people expected, and there is more competition for that L.N.G. from markets that are willing to pay more than the United States.”
Not long ago, Cheniere was a darling of Wall Street. It was widely praised for having the vision to plan four new liquefied gas terminals around the Gulf of Mexico to connect the country with supplies of natural gas from places like Nigeria and Egypt, gas once considered so worthless it was burned off.
Now the company’s stock price has sunk from $40 to just over $5 since last fall.
“The question that people ask is if L.N.G. doesn’t come to the United States for another year or two or three, what is going to happen to Cheniere,” acknowledged Charif Souki, the chief executive officer of the company.
While natural gas prices in the United States have spiked to over $11.80 per thousand cubic feet from $7.50 at the beginning of the year, the price that gas producers can draw in many other countries in the world is several dollars higher. All they need are terminals in producing countries that can chill natural gas to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit for shipping across oceans and terminals in consuming countries that can regasify cargoes.
Just about the only place where demand for L.N.G. seems not to be growing is the United States, an abrupt shift from expectations as little as one year ago.
The Sabine Pass terminal was part of an estimated $7 billion construction of eight new L.N.G. receiving terminals being built around the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast over the last five years to guarantee plentiful domestic supplies. With imports about 40 percent of the level of a year ago, and national receiving terminal capacity poised to double this year, the excess construction of import capacity has alarmed industry executives.
However the executives predict that it is only a matter of time before the white elephants begin to look like a more robust breed. They say American gas suppliers will eventually be willing to pay the higher world prices on the spot market, especially if a gas shortage ensues after a punishing hurricane season or frigid winter.
They also predict future American consumption of natural gas is poised to increase because of hardening opposition to building new coal-fired electricity generating plants and delays in new nuclear plants. “Over time, we will need to start importing more gas,” said Darcel L. Hulse, president of Sempra LNGE, a division of Sempra Energy, which is building receiving terminals in Mexico and Louisiana. “We will not have enough.”
That was the thinking that spurred the L.N.G. expansion in the United States in the first place. At the beginning of the decade, government officials and energy experts predicted a decline in domestic natural gas production as conventional fields on-shore and in the Gulf of Mexico declined. Companies like Cheniere, Sempra Energy and Exxon Mobil began snapping up coastal land and requesting regulatory approval for scores of terminals. Several other terminals were taken out of mothballs and expanded.
But recently domestic natural gas production has been stronger than expected and events abroad have drawn L.N.G. from the United States to countries that needed it more.
Last July an earthquake in Japan forced the closing of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, which in turn has forced Japanese utilities to import huge amounts of L.N.G.
World L.N.G. supplies grew even more scarce because of a persistent drought in Spain that has crimped that country’s hydroelectric capacity, forcing the Spanish to increase L.N.G. imports.
Prices in Asia and Europe have soared, as producers have sold more supply on the spot market where prices are higher than those in traditional long term contracts.
World demand for natural gas has grown about 2.6 percent a year over the last decade, but in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa it has averaged 7 percent over the same period, according to a recent UBS report. Growth in the developing world is expected to be supported in the years ahead by a construction boom in refineries and power and petrochemical plants.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wording of Proposed Order in US v National Assiciation of Realtors

Upon reading the document(s) here are my comments (and we are having to "re-up" with a broker today over 885 Greenville, and I am an attorney, so these comments are particularly cogent, to the extent I can be):

1. It's incomprehensible;
2. It protects the cut-rate brokers but does nothing to protect the seller, who cannot get his property on the MLS except through a broker;
3. The established full-service brokers will still shun the home seller on his own or through a cut-rate broker.

Hardly Matters in Cincinnati


Published: May 28, 2008
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department and the National Association of Realtors reached a major antitrust settlement Tuesday that government officials said should spur competition among brokers and ultimately bring down hefty sales commissions.
The deal frees Internet brokers and other real-estate agents offering heavily discounted commissions to operate on a level playing field with traditional brokers by using the multiple listing services that are the lifeblood of the industry, government officials said.
The Justice Department sued the National Association of Realtors in federal court in 2005 on antitrust grounds, charging that its policies were stifling competition and hurting consumers. That case was scheduled to go to trial in Chicago in July.
The settlement “is a win for consumers, certainly, who will now have the benefit of unrestricted competition,” Deborah A. Garza, deputy assistant attorney general for antitrust, said in an interview. “There inevitably will be more efficiency and more competition in the market.”
Real estate agents earned $93 billion in commissions in 2006, with a median commission of about $11,600, Justice Department officials said. Internet brokers, offering pared-down services, provided average rebates of 1 percent on commissions that normally ran 5 or 6 percent, translating into thousands of dollars per sale.
Consumer advocates hailed the settlement as an important and somewhat surprising step by the Bush administration, which has staked out a position on many antitrust issues seen as favorable to business interests.
“I was very pleasantly surprised,” said Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, which tracked the case. “Given the reluctance of anyone in Washington before the Justice Department to improve competition in the real-estate industry, this settlement represents a milestone.”
The National Association of Realtors, with more than 1.2 million members, said that the settlement was “a win-win” for both the real estate industry and consumers. It noted that the association admitted no wrongdoing and paid no fines or damages as part of the deal.
Laurie Janik, the association’s general counsel, said in a telephone interview that the settlement would have no real impact on home buyers or sellers.
“I don’t think they’ll see anything different,” she said. “This lawsuit never had anything to do with commission rates, or discount brokerages.”
She added that the lawsuit and the settlement arose from misunderstandings about the way the Realtors’ association works. “This was a five-year education of the Department of Justice, unfortunately, and the real estate industry had to pay for that education,” she said.
Since the 1990s, online real estate brokers have offered a popular and cheaper alternative to the bricks-and-mortar variety. But such brokers, known in the industry as “virtual office Web sites,” complain that the industry’s practices have denied them the chance to make full use of the multiple listing services to determine what homes are for sale.
The agreement between the Justice Department and the Realtors’ association must be approved by a federal judge, probably this summer. As now structured, the deal bans the Realtors’ association from treating online brokers as different from traditional brokers or discriminating against them, and it ensures that they will not be excluded from membership in the listing service based on their business model.
In one instance, the Justice Department said an unnamed online broker was forced to shut down its Web site because all the traditional brokers on the local listing service, in response to the national association’s policy, had withheld their listings from the online broker.
After the Justice Department sued the Realtors’ association in 2005, the group suspended the exclusionary policy. Officials said the settlement would ensure that online brokers are given full access and that its policies are made uniform.
“For us, it’s a great result,” said Pat Lashinsky, chief executive of ZipRealty in Emeryville, Calif., which offers online users rebates of up to 20 percent off standard sales commissions. “We think it’s a great result for consumers.”
Norman Hawker, a business professor at Western Michigan University who organized a symposium on the Justice Department litigation as a senior fellow for the American Antitrust Institute, predicted that the settlement would ultimately mean a drop in sales commissions of 25 percent to 50 percent as a result of increased competition.
“It’s pretty clear that there was an enormous amount of discrimination against brokers who were trying to use innovative business models,” including discounted fees and virtual offices on the Internet, he said. “There are lots of entrepreneurs who have been looking for a green light in the form of this order to begin offering discounted rates. It has the potential to be a big step forward for consumers.”

Rent or Buy -- Excellent

Published: May 28, 2008
For the last few years, I have been an evangelist for renting.
"Buying is always better than renting. Why build equity for someone else's family, when you can build equity for your own?
I’ve told my sister-in-law and her husband that they would be crazy to abandon their reasonably priced one-bedroom rental in Brooklyn. When two of my colleagues were moving to Los Angeles, I e-mailed them a spreadsheet that helped persuade them not to buy a house there. That same spreadsheet was the basis for an article in 2005, when I argued that “renting has become a surprisingly smart option.” Last spring — like any good evangelist, comfortable with repetition — I wrote a similar article.
The case for renting has been simple enough. House prices rose so high in the first half of this decade that you could often get more for your money by renting. You could also avoid having a large part of your net worth tied up in a speculative bubble.
All this time, I have been a renter myself, first in the New York suburbs and then in Manhattan. But my wife and I will be moving to Washington this summer. And the housing market has, obviously, changed quite a bit since our last move, in 2005. Nationwide, prices fell 14.1 percent from early 2007 to early this year, as Standard & Poor’s reported Tuesday. Home prices almost certainly still have a way to fall, but they’re now well below their peak.
So my wife and I began our search with open minds, willing to consider renting or buying. We ended our search by signing a contract to buy a house.
This is the story of my conversion.

One of the big lies of the real estate business is the idea that renting a home is tantamount to throwing money away. It’s a useful fiction for real estate agents, because they make vastly bigger commissions on house sales than rentals. But the comparison isn’t nearly so straightforward for the rest of us.
Renting involves one obvious, recurring cost that can never be recouped: the monthly rent check. Buying, on the other hand, involves multiple expenses, some of which aren’t so obvious. On top of closing costs, there are repairs, property taxes, mortgage principal and mortgage interest. (The mortgage-interest tax deduction reduces this last cost but doesn’t eliminate it.) When you own, you also lose the ability to invest your down payment elsewhere, like the stock market.
Of course, owning also brings benefits that have nothing to do with money. You can settle into your home, confident that no landlord will kick you out. You can repaint the walls and redo the kitchen. All else being equal, owning seems far preferable to renting.
Knowing all this, my wife and I were willing to buy a house even if it was ultimately going to cost us a bit more than renting. We just weren’t willing to have it cost a lot more than renting.
Over the last several years, I’ve come to like a simple, back-of-the-envelope way to compare the costs of renting and owning. You find two similar houses, one for sale and the other for rent, and divide the sale price by the annual rent. You can call the result the rent ratio.
The concept will probably sound familiar to stock market investors. It’s the real estate market’s version of a price-earnings ratio — a measure of how expensive an asset is, relative to the underlying economic fundamentals. Like a P/E ratio, the rent ratio provides something of a reality check.
Throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, the average rent ratio nationwide hovered between 10 and 14. In the last few years, though, it broke through that historical range and hit almost 19 by the time the housing market peaked, in 2006.
And while home prices — and rent ratios — have always been higher on the coasts, they reached whole new levels recently. In the Washington area, the ratio went above 20. In Boston, New York, Los Angeles and south Florida, it topped 25. In Northern California, it approached 35, higher than it had been in any city, at any point on record.
In concrete terms, a rent ratio above 20 means that the monthly costs of ownership well exceed the cost of renting. At current mortgage rates, for example, a $500,000 house would typically bring monthly expenses of about $3,000 (taking into account taxes, repairs, a typical down payment and, yes, the mortgage deduction). When the rent ratio is 20, that same house could be rented for only about $2,000 a month.

Friedman on Energy Today

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Kerviel -- From Floyd Norris Blog

I thought so! Kerviel was ahead at the end of the year 2007!

May 13, 2008, 6:27 pm
SocGen Changes Its Numbers
Société Générale, the French bank that lost billions from a rogue trader, disclosed today that it had restated quarterly income figures for last year to account for the unauthorized trades. The audited numbers, which the company admitted violated accounting standards, now turn out to have been wrong. (The violation of accounting standards, as I explained in this column, involved shifting losses taken in 2008 to 2007. The company got its auditors to agree that was fine, despite the rules.)
SocGen still wants to report all the losses in 2007, but it concedes that losses came as early as the first quarter. Previously it had not disclosed any impact before the fourth quarter.
My colleague Nicola Clark of the International Herald Tribune brings to my attention the fact that the restatement can be found in today’s first quarter earnings release. You can find them on page 24, in appendix 3.2 How’s that for prominent disclosure?
Here is the latest on when the trader, Jérôme Kerviel, made and lost money on his unauthorized trades:
First quarter 2007 — A loss of 97 million euros.
Second quarter 2007 — A loss of 2.064 billion euros.
Third quarter 2007 — A profit of 2.524 billion euros.
Fourth quarter 2007 — A profit of 1.108 billion euros.
First quarter 2008 — A loss of 6.382 billion euros.

Those losses were taken after the bank found out about the trades and liquidated his positions in a hurry.
Previously, the company had reported the net amount for all the trades in the fourth quarter. It disclosed (in note 40 on page 247 of its annual report) that the 6.4 billion euro loss actually came on trades in the first quarter of this year, but it decided to report them in 2007 anyway. It still does that, but it spreads the earlier results among the other quarters when they actually occurred.
The interesting news for the first quarter of 2008, to me at least, is that SocGen spent 274 million euros to bail out its money market funds, which owned “securities that had become illiquid” and that could not be sold for their face value. It appears that Mr. Kerviel was not the only SocGen trader who made bad bets.

Cockeyed Optimist

From today's review of the renewal of South Pacific on broadway:

And so as we watch that family gather at the end of “South Pacific,” both their future and their country’s destiny yet to be written, we weep for the same reason we often do when we experience a catharsis at the theater. We grieve deeply for our losses and our failings, even as we feel an undertow of cockeyed optimism about the possibilities of healing and redemption that may yet lie ahead.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Type 2 Diabetes

If you're a reader of this blog you are probably overwieght, or underexercised, or growing older, or at least a member of the human race. Therefore read the following:

Run Your Car on Alcohol

GE -- If I'm Not Mistaken...

GE's at a new low for the year.

One "dirty little secret" of investment managers used to be, simply, overweight your portfolio with GE.

OK, I just checked:

Ted Kennedy and Today's Herbert in NYT

Yes, worth reading:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Kerviel -- II

So this is what our investment banks, etc. are doing with our money...risking amounts larger than the net worth of the bank, or ... of anything.

"No cash movements, or margin calls, or immediate confirmations." How, how, how? If this is true then the whole world system could fail.

Kerviel -- i Repeat

How do this without an immediate margin call????

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Worth Reading Through -- I Think

Confessions of a public/professional blogger:

Next Winter's Heating Costs

The question: how much will my next winter's natural gas bill be, is not easy to answer or even estimate for an old Victorian home. For various reasons one comes to realize that the concept of Heating Degree Days (HDD) is important."Converting" various simple data reports is necessary. Thus, although I like to say that April 2007 was a lot colder than normal in Cincinnati, it turns out not to be true on a full calendar basis. But on my meter-reading basis it is true. My meter is read the 5th of each month. So I have to lop off 4 days at the front end and add 4 days at the tail end.It is also very helpful to develop a five-year history of your house, which should capture colder than normal winters.Having another house to compare is also instructive.We happened to have two houses for the past winter, two blocks apart, so we can do this comparison.
June 16, 2007 7:46 AM
f bruce abel said...
It is also important to know what the normal heating degree days are for each month, or, better yet, for each day of the month,so a later blog shows this for the Cincinnati area. One used to be able to call up daily information on a current basis from NOAA, but this year it was not possible.
June 17, 2007 8:40 AM
Post a Comment

The Big "O"

In Cincinnati, and around the sports world, everybody knows who that is. But move over Oscar.

Beware the BOLI

See my earlier blog on Fifth Third's law suit filed in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio. Search the word "astounding" within this blog.

Next Winter in Glendale Ohio

Let's see -- at $1.50 per ccf or more:

1500 ccf
x $1.50

$2,250 just for heat in the five winter months
+ $175 per month for electricity
+ $175
+ $175
+ $175
+ $175
$3,125 just for the winter

Whenever Anything Drops Dead

You get natural gas. See my signature and first blog:

Natural gas is not like oil (in this respect).

When I Was Trading

I found that the longer the time between trades the better the result on the next particular trade. Now I haven't been trading for years. Does that mean my next trade will be my best of all?

I may never know.

Why I Was Too Busy to Write This Paper

To make it east to read My Favorite Literary Club Paper here is the cite to her first page of my earlier blog:

and then page 5 from Part II:

I'm too lazy to cut and paste each page.

Just search my titles for "Why I Was Too Busy."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Next Winter -- Wow!

Worth Reading

May 21, 2008, 1:01 am
White On White
She’s got her white voters. He’s got his. Her whites go to church every week. His whites are more secular. Her whites have dirt under their fingernails. His are more likely to be changing ink cartridges in the office. Her whites like the hard stuff. His whites will choose Oregon pinot.
It makes you want to scream: enough with the hierarchal rankings of white Democratic voters.
But what Tuesday’s stumble-to-the-finish-line vote showed is that this sort of regional race trumpeting is largely meaningless — unless put in the correct context for the general election.
Consider the media shorthand for both Kentucky and West Virginia, where Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama by huge margins. These are hard-working, real Americans, the Clinton camp says, and a Democrat can’t win without them.
In fact, both West Virginia and Kentucky have gone against the national tide of the last 8 years and have been trending Republican. Also – and this needs to be said – a significant percentage of the voters in both those states have now indicated that they may not vote for a fellow Democrat simply because he’s black.
Pollsters know that people lie about race; voters rarely come out and say they will not vote for someone because he’s black. Instead, they say things like we’re hearing from West Virginia and Kentucky – that “race is a factor.”
In Kentucky, over 25 percent of Clinton supporters said race was a factor in their vote – about five times the national average for such a question. Clinton, if she really wanted to do something lasting, could ask her supporters why the color of a fellow Democrat’s skin is so important to their vote.
Now, consider the argument that a Democrat needs these states. In 2000, George Bush won West Virginia 52 to 46 percent. Four years later, he’d increased his margin to 56-43.
In Kentucky, Bush won 57-41 in 2000, and padded that to 60-40 four years later.
Appalachia, we now know, is Clinton’s heartland – but it does not resemble the Democratic landscape. If these are Democratic states, there’s some strange serum in the local brew at party headquarters.
On to Oregon, where Obama won by double digits. A bunch of chai tea sipping elitists, with zero body fat, living in hip lofts while working at Nike, yes? No. Well, they do like running, and tea. Oregon is one of the nation’s whitest states – just under 2 percent of residents are black – but rich it is not. The state is below the national average in both per capita income and median household income.
This suggests that Obama doesn’t have a white working class problem so much as a regional problem, in a place where Democrats won’t win anyway.
In Oregon, voters’ surveys show Obama essentially tied Clinton for the blue collar vote while running up a big victory.
And Oregon, unlike West Virginia and Kentucky, may actually be in play for the general election. Al Gore won it by barely 7,000 votes in 2000, a margin that went up to 60,000 votes in 2004. McCain’s advisers say he’s a perfect fit for the state – independent, somewhat maverick.
So, from a purely strategic point of view, the ability to win white blue-collar voters in an open-minded swing state is certainly more important than a solid red state. I would include Pennsylvania in that equation. Just weeks after all the talk of Obama’s problems in the Keystone state, most polls now show him beating McCain in the general election.
What happened in the last few weeks is that Appalachia, in a 24-7 media hothouse, skewed perception. We stared at it far too long, parsing it for meaning beyond its historic range and its hard prejudices.
The Gallup poll this week showed that the rest of the nation is closer to Oregon. Gallup’s daily national tracking poll of Democratic voters found Obama tied Clinton among white voters. He’s tied among people with no college. He’s actually leading – yes, leading! – with women. With the young, he’s leading 3-1. Clinton’s last demographic is women over 50.
So, for Democrats: hello life, goodbye Appalachia.
Comments (16)
E-mail this
16 comments so far...
May 21st,20082:22 am
Thank you so much for this excellent article. You have just proved how wrong political interpreters can be when they don’t take the bigger (national) data into account.
— Posted by Erin
May 21st,20082:25 am
Hard words, Mr. Egan, but hard realities invite them. Spot on.
— Posted by Alan in Chicago
May 21st,20084:08 am
With a sharp plain truth populist campaign- Democrats can win Appalachia too .
— Posted by G
May 21st,20084:15 am
Another excellent column, Mr Egan. I’ve had enough with the hierarchical rankings of white Democratic voters as well! Thanks for putting the democratic primary victories of both Clinton and Obama in the context of the general election, which is when they will really matter.
— Posted by libiki
May 21st,20084:26 am
Your article has made a good case that it is the relative prevalence of racial bias, and not simply socioeconomic class, that contributed to the size of Senator Clinton’s victories in Kentucky and West Virginia. Senator Clinton ignores that factor when touting those results as evidence of her strong support among white blue collar Americans.
If Senator Clinton is successful in this attempt to win the support of super delegates then she will create obligations to people many Democrats and many Americans would rather not see having a major impact on policy decisions.
The Republican Party tied itself so strongly to the Christian conservative evangelical movement that it now finds it impossible to advocate for or enact much needed legislation and administrative policy. Senator Clinton should be careful not to do something similar, and the Democratic Party should be careful not to allow that to happen.
— Posted by thatkenguy

Spot Gold -- Here We Go Again

The "new"/old carry trade:

buy gold, buy oil, sell financials, buy Procter.

Maureen Dowd -- "The Last Debate" Has it All


Published: May 21, 2008
“What do you want? Please, Sweetie, would you just tell me what you want?”

“Don’t Sweetie me, Twiggy. You know what I want.”
“Besides that, Hillary. Seriously, you don’t want your delusion to put John McCain in the White House. Or maybe you do. You have no shot. I’m 60 delegates away from nomination nirvana. You should stop stalking me. I come down to Florida for a victory lap and you follow me down here and call for a recount. Look what that did for Al Gore. If you show a shred of common sense and take a powder now, the party will put you on a pedestal.”
“Pedestals are for losers. You’re on a pedestal. I’ve never been a loser. I refuse to lose. I won the West Virginia and Kentucky derbies, and I’m not going to end up like Eight Belles.”
“Hillary, you’ve been a great candidate, better than your train-wreck campaign. You’re Churchillian in your indomitable tenacity. You’ve inspired women all over the country. In fact, you’ve inspired some of them to hate me. But now it’s time for you to try to muster a gracious exit.”
“Forget it, Bones. Once Harold Ickes works his dark magic on the delegate rules to count Michigan and Florida, I’ll have the popular vote. And then the superdelegates will grovel back. They know in their hearts that they don’t want to go on a blind date with a guy who’s going to be BFF with Cuba, Hamas, Iran and retired Weathermen. You can bet your white turban that I’m not raising the white flag.”
“Like hell you aren’t, sister.”
“Speaking of whites, you can’t win without them. And if you think your Secretary of Hairdressing, John Edwards, is going to help, you’re more delusional than I am.”
“Hillary, when are you going to realize that these whites you consider your pawns are so sick of the Republicans that they’re going to vote for anybody who has the ‘D’ next to their name, and it’s going to be me. So cool it with the White Fright. Now what do you want? Debt relief?”
“Bill and I don’t need your Netroots arugula moolah. We don’t need your stinking $20 donors. We’ve got Burkle, the Saudis, the Kuwaitis and Kazakh uranium loot on tap.”
“Settle down, Hillary. What if I let you write the health care plank in the party platform?”
“Wow, you’re so-o-o generous. Can I also write the plank on switchgrass?”
“I switched from grass a long time ago.”
“Listen, rookie, we’re gonna have to share this thing.”
“Fine, you can have the 3 a.m. shift on the White House switchboard.”
“Oh, you’re so witty with all your stupid rallies with 75,000 people and spending $100 million on ads to promote one puny word: Change. I’ve made sacrifices in this campaign. While you’ve been fake-eating and losing weight, I’ve had to stuff myself with all that greasy working-class junk food and chase it with Boilermakers.”
“What about me? I’ve come from nowhere, with a single mother on food stamps and a funny name.”
“Oh, you’re so inspiring. For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.”
“Don’t mock Michelle. I would be polite and ask you to be my vice president, but you’d accept, just the same way Lyndon Johnson sandbagged Bobby Kennedy, so I can’t. You and Bill are just too much drama for me. Bill is off-the-charts crazy.”
“Tell me about it. But he’d be way over on Massachusetts Avenue, a completely different ZIP code than the White House. And Cheney built that underground bunker there, so we’d always have someplace to stash him. If you don’t put me on the ticket, I’ll signal my faithful to vote for John McCain. He’s more fun than you, anyhow.”
“Hillary, I don’t trust you. And Michelle hates your guts. Look, the Senate is a wonderful place. I enjoyed my two months there. You’ve never made the most of the experience because you were so busy using it as a launching pad.”
“Back at ya, Skeletor.”
“Can you stop talking, Hillary? Is that even possible?”
“No, I won’t, Mr. Never-Convened-Your-European-Affairs-Subcommittee. I don’t want to go back. It’s boring. And why should I work with all those self-hating, so-called feminists who stabbed me in the back, like Claire McCaskill and Amy Klobuchar?”
“Look, Hillary, a few years back in the Senate helping me move my world-changing agenda will help you repair some of those relationships. In Barack Obama’s Washington, there will be no more game-playing, mud-slinging or back-stabbing.”
“Hey, Señor Appeaser, there’s another primary in 2012. Bill and I are already gearing up for it.”
“You’re not likeable enough, Hillary.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Watching Becky Quick Interviewing Boone Pickens

Becky is The heavy Hitter on CNBC.

Oil @ $127.10
85 million/bbl/day is all the world can produce.
Russians are starting to decline now.
We are now paying out $600 billion to the world for oil, per year.
Natural gas is the hero. Ethanol is a joke.
His "way" to have natural gas to back off the oil.
We have plenty of natural gas.

Two-step. Wind is a big factor. 20% of power in US -- 200,000 MW -- replaces natural gas. Natural gas then goes to transportation.
Pampa Texas will be the wind capital of the world.
Solar. $600 billion is at $100/bbl. In ten years this country will be broke.
Speculators not a factor.
Went short oil in 1st qtr. Now long.
Maximize use of wind.
U.S.: We have plenty of refining capacity.
Global recession would slow down price of oil, but that's not in the cards.
I can cut imports by 40% with my plan. 400,000 bls/day are being curtailed because of price now.

Check Out MyBestTime Today

She is so good.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I Love This Article

See also my earlier Blog and the paper by Beth Smith "Why I Was Too Busy to Write This Paper."

The Fall of Conservatism -- New New Yorker

A very long article which I have only 1/6th finished:

Spring Training -- by Si Burick's Daughter

A debate with my niece's husband led me to research Dayton Daily News Sports writer Si Burick, this morning. That led me to this nostalgic article in the New York Times of February 26, 1978, by his daughter.
The editor's note at the bottom of column one portrays her mother (Si's wife) as pretty promiscuous, and should be sent to Dave Letterman.

Auchincloss -- Next Two Pages

I Found it -- Auchincloss New Yorker Piece

The Need For Good Toilets in Burma

Einstein and God

Sunday, May 18, 2008

And My Favorite Sports' Writer Paul Daugherty

Wednesday, March 3, 2004
She was a true original
Like her or not, Marge was Marge
Farewell, honey.
Goodbye to your big heart, your big mouth and the memory of your big, big dogs. You'll be remembered, babe. One way or another.
Marge Schott had a time, didn't she? She didn't just have a life, the way most of us do, those who confront the day-to-day. She lived one. You can argue the merits of her time, you can judge the facts of her case. You can't dispute she was an original. We won't see the likes of Marge Schott again.
Marge died Tuesday. Hoist a vodka in her name. A Kamchatka, the cheap stuff, with a little water.
The true measure of a person is whether he or she leaves a place better than he or she found it. Is Cincinnati better for having raised and rooted Marge Schott?
Yeah. Probably.
Good Marge competed with Bad Marge, daily.
Two students at Saint Ursula Academy & Convent walk past a sign Tuesday afternoon marking the passing of Marge Schott. Schott was a large contributor to the East Walnut Hills school. (Glenn Hartong photo)Good Marge loved kids and animals. Bad Marge slurred adults not born white and Anglo. Good Marge gave away money as if she had a mint in her Indian Hill basement: a million dollars to the Boy Scouts. A million-five to St. Ursula, the school that reminded her of her alma mater, Sacred Heart Academy. Tens of thousands of dollars to other causes she embraced, many that helped children. And we didn't even mention the zoo. Marge loved the zoo.
Bad Marge sold day-old doughnuts to fans standing in line to buy Opening Day tickets. The day after umpire John McSherry died, Bad Marge gave the umpires the flowers she'd been given by a local TV station the previous day.
Good Marge rubbed Schottzie hair on Lou Piniella's chest. Bad Marge made general manager Bob Quinn scoop Schottzie's poop when the St. Bernard let loose in the executive offices.
Good Marge paid for a World Series championship in 1990. Bad Marge sent the kitchen staff home from the Parc 55 hotel in San Francisco, the night the Reds finished their sweep of the Oakland A's. The players returned from the stadium and washed their triumph in adult beverages, believing dinner was on the way. Marge sent the cooks home, pleased she had saved a few thousand bucks. The players drank freely on empty stomachs.
Piniella and outfielder Billy Hatcher ended up buying bags of hamburgers from a downtown fast-food joint. The world champs celebrated themselves with fries and nausea. It wasn't pretty.
Marge was a tough old bird. Even when she wasn't old. She was who she was and didn't give a damn what you thought. Stricken with emphysema, she continued to inhale Carltons. Crippled by osteoporosis - "that bone thing, honey," she called it - and colitis, she continued to drink vodka. Marge would be Marge to the end.
She could tell you the names of the mechanics at Schott Buick more easily than she could the heroes of the 1990 Series. She was accepted more readily in the car business than the baseball business.
All baseball ever wanted was for Marge to keep quiet. The game had too many other worries to be bothered by her. Marge couldn't help herself. You could debate if she really wanted to. Words floated like magpies - or anvils - from her mouth. What she thought, she said.
She was born 50 years too late. She lived her later life in a time when what she said was more important than what she did. Political correctness is a noose of feigned politeness that stifles much-needed discussion. We're afraid of saying the wrong thing now, so we don't say anything.
Marge would have none of that. She was Archie Bunker for real, at a time when Archie Bunker was no longer acceptable. Baseball kicked her to the curb because, in this day and age, it had no choice.
She lived in a classically elegant Tudor mansion on 90 acres. She had a secret passage behind the fireplace. She had a swastika armband, a World War II souvenir, in the drawer of a table just off the foyer.
Johnny Weismuller swam in her pool. Elephants walked her front yard. She had salt licks all over her property, for the deer.
She was, I thought, a lonely woman. She'd leave her royal domain at Riverfront Stadium, where the kids would walk down the steps to her front-row seat for autographs, a steady procession of them, night after night, for a big, old house with 40-year-old furniture and closed-off rooms concealed by thick draperies. Alone with her dog and her drink.
She insisted on $1 hot dogs. She banned the media from the stadium dining room. (I was the initial exile.) She was the people's owner, and the people loved her, in spite of herself. She was a rich woman with peasant sensibilities. We liked her for that. For most of her years, most people in this town liked her. She had very few close friends.
She was kind, frequently asking those who worked for her how their spouses and children were. She could also be coarse.
Her maiden name was Unnewehr. Pronounced "unaware." Some would call that ironic.
Most of us will recall her unpleasantness as eccentricity, fueled by drink. Time scrubs the dirt clean. What endures is the image of a small, contradictory woman, powerful and lonely, big-hearted and mean-spirited, willfully anachronistic, determined to shoot herself in the foot. If only so no one else could do it, babe.
That was Marge. Raise a glass for her today, honey, OK? Unlike most of us, the old gal was one of a kind. Like most of us, she meant well. Even when it seemed she didn't.
MARGE SCHOTT: 1928-2004 [Special section]'A woman of the people'Daugherty: She was a true originalInsensitivity defined reign over Reds - and ended it Schott gave millions for kids, pet causes She paid for a world title, then paid for her mistakesPioneering businesswoman stood up to General MotorsTimeline: A lifetime of MargeReds remember only the best Parker, Davis remember Marge for good deeds, not bad words Schott's controversies still reverberate in baseball Enquirer editorial: Remembering Schott's generosity

A Hand on Yours in the Batting Cage

[You should read today's blogs in chronological order. In other words go way back to the first blog this morning and follow the dots.]

Wednesday, March 3, 2004
Parker, Davis remember Marge for good deeds, not bad words
By John ErardiThe Cincinnati Enquirer
None of Marge Schott's players had a more heinous thing said about them by the Reds president and chief executive officer than Dave Parker and Eric Davis.
Two court witnesses in a wrongful-firing lawsuit said in 1992 that they had heard Schott refer to Parker and Davis as "my million-dollar niggers." On the opening day of that trial - Nov. 16, 1992 - Schott admitted she had used the "n" word. She said she didn't know if the "n" word was offensive to blacks.
In the end, the two superstars forgave her, even though they never forgot what she said. Unlike so many people who were so offended by such language and the images it conjured, Parker and Davis had three advantages.
They got to know Schott better because of it, got to have personal conversations with her about it and got to develop an affection for her after the uproar had diminished.
"The sad thing would be if she is remembered for what she said, rather than what she did," said Parker, a Cincinnati native who played from the Reds from 1984-87.
"I think she was a product of her upbringing. But the lady did a lot of good. She did a whole lot of good for the Reds and Cincinnati."
Parker remembers coming back to Cinergy Field as the St. Cardinals' hitting coach in the late 1990s and feeling a hand on his. He had no idea what it was all about. The gentle touch is not common batting-cage decorum.
"I looked over and it was Marge with those big eyes," Parker said, "just wanting to say hello. That's the way she was. She was just a sweet old lady. That's how you've got to regard it."
Marge Schott gives Eric Davis a pat on the neck prior to a pre-game ceremony honoring his career at Cinergy Field in 2001. (Glenn Hartong/file photo)Davis, whose first stint with the Reds was 1984-91, said it was Schott who deserves the credit for him returning to Cincinnati for a farewell season in 1996, which turned out to be one of the best things he ever did. Reds fans got to see him for who he really was: a gamer, a clubhouse leader, somebody who cared.
"I talked to Marge during the '95 playoffs when the Reds were playing the Dodgers," Davis said. "She's the one who initiated my return, not (former general manager) Jim Bowden or (manager) Ray Knight. They tried to prevent it. Without that conversation with Marge, I don't wind up back here."
Part of that and later conversations with Marge was the "n" word reference.
"I'm from the old-school freedom of speech, but that also applies to me, and I told Marge exactly what I thought," Davis said. "Our relationship was ... I won't call it love-hate, but it was intense. I don't know what the circumstances were when she said it, but as I told her, whatever the circumstances were, they weren't worthy. She apologized. I'm a man, and I accept that, but I don't forget it. The important thing is we were two adults, holding a conversation, learning about one another."
Parker admits to being bitter about Schott's "n" word reference at first. "I'm one of those guys who is only going to be treated one way, and that's with respect," he said. "After I got to know her better, I understood: She had money and she had power, and she grew up with people who made those comments, too. Deep down, she was a good person. When you think of all the good she did for the zoo, the various charities, that's what she should be remembered for. But I don't know if she will."
Davis said history also might forget that Schott was sometimes left unprotected by her general managers and vice president types.
"Marge was a pioneer, owning a prestigious franchise and winning a world championship, but she wasn't always given the best advice," Davis said. "It's wrong to say, or think, that everything that went wrong was her fault. That's what the people around you are for, provided you listen to them, of course. If you're (former GMs) Bob Quinn or Jim Bowden, you can't just say: 'She won't listen to me. Here's what Marge wants; here's what we've got to do.' Hey, it's your job to get her to listen to you."
Davis said he forgave Schott for being, at first, unwilling to pay for his flight back to Cincinnati after he'd been injured in the 1990 World Series in Oakland.
"I don't think Bob Quinn tried hard enough to prevail upon her to pay for the flight," Davis said. "He had to know how bad she was going to look if he let her take the brunt of that. Maybe he tried. I don't know. But you just can't let things like that happen."
Davis hopes that, in the end, the scales weigh more heavily on Marge's side. "It's unfortunate that in the last few years of her life, the team had been taken away from her and she sort of vanished into the sunset," he said. "You want to finish on a positive note. It went the opposite way for Marge. I hope she will be remembered for the positive things she tried to do."
"She loved to win. She loved the fan notoriety. She basked in the glow of being the owner of the Cincinnati Reds." Reds radio broadcaster Marty Brennaman
"I think people are appreciated once they're gone, to tell you the truth. I think people will remember the good things about Marge." Reds shortstop Barry Larkin
MARGE SCHOTT: 1928-2004 [Special section]'A woman of the people'Daugherty: She was a true originalInsensitivity defined reign over Reds - and ended it Schott gave millions for kids, pet causes She paid for a world title, then paid for her mistakesPioneering businesswoman stood up to General MotorsTimeline: A lifetime of MargeReds remember only the best Parker, Davis remember Marge for good deeds, not bad words Schott's controversies still reverberate in baseball Enquirer editorial: Remembering Schott's generosity

That First Game in 1990

One Team Does Dominate: The Reds
Published: October 17, 1990
LEAD: The Oakland Athletics, heavily favored for one more coronation as the ruling family of baseball, suffered a rude jolt tonight when the Cincinnati Reds rose up, hammered Dave Stewart for four innings and bushwhacked the Athletics, 7-0, in the opening game of the 87th World Series.
The Oakland Athletics, heavily favored for one more coronation as the ruling family of baseball, suffered a rude jolt tonight when the Cincinnati Reds rose up, hammered Dave Stewart for four innings and bushwhacked the Athletics, 7-0, in the opening game of the 87th World Series.
It was the first time the defending champions had been beaten in 11 postseason games going back to last year's American League playoff and the first time Stewart had been beaten in seven postseason games going back to the year before.
It wasn't the worst beating in World Series history, but it was one of the biggest surprises. And it unfolded after Stewart was nailed for a two-run home run in the first inning to Eric Davis, who by his own estimate had lost 70 percent of his power because of a shoulder injury but who resisted a suggestion by his manager to switch from the cleanup spot to the leadoff spot in the batting order. And, hitting cleanup, he smacked the first pitch thrown to him in his first World Series.
''Did it give us a lift?'' Davis reflected later. ''It gave us a lead. But Dave Stewart is a dominating pitcher. You get the lead off him, you get a lift.'' Upstaged by Rijo
After that jarring start, Stewart was outpitched by Jose Rijo, his one-time junior teammate on the Oakland team, and he was gone after throwing 64 pitches on a night when form took a memorable beating.
''You beat the Oakland Athletics,'' said Rijo, ''and you beat a great lineup. An awesome lineup.''
''Explanations sound too much like excuses,'' said Tony LaRussa, the manager of the Oakland team. ''But Stewart is great just about every time he goes out there. Tonight, he was less than great.''
This may not have been David against Goliath, but it was close. The Reds held first place in the National League's West every day of the 162-game season, but they were considered no match for the monolithic A's, who were aiming for the most challenging goal in sports: to repeat as champions.
Their football neighbors, the San Francisc 49ers, won the Super Bowl game the last two years. But in baseball, nobody has repeated since the Yankees won the World Series in 1977 and 1978. And the Athletics, who have won the American League pennant three years in a row, opened the Series as the most accomplished team in baseball.
Even the pitching matchup suggested no contest: Stewart won 22 games this season, 20 or more for four years in a row, two in last year's World Series and two more in last week's American League playoff.
Rijo, traded by Oakland to Cincinnati three years ago, won 14 games this season. But the A's had three pitchers who won more than that, and one of them was on the mound tonight. But he wasn't on the mound after four innings, and by then the Reds had a four-run lead.
''Dave Stewart is the epitome of a professional pitcher,'' said Lou Piniella, the manager of the Reds. ''He gives you the innings and the wins. I don't know what happened tonight.'' This is what happened tonight: Laboring with his usually precise control, Stewart opened the Series by going to three balls on five of the first eight batters he faced. He also walked three of them, starting with Billy Hatcher, the second hitter in the Reds' lineup, who reached base four times eventually on a walk, a single and two doubles.
Stewart then struck out Paul O'Neill and needed one more out to keep order. But the man he had to get out was Davis, who wrenched his left shoulder last month and hit no home runs in the last three weeks. He was swinging in his customary No. 4 spot after vetoing Piniella's suggestion that he move to the top to minimize the demands on his power.
''I hit leadoff all my career until 1986,'' Davis said. ''But to be coming this far and hitting No. 4 for the last five years, and this is my first World Series, there was no doubt I wanted to stay there.''
Stewart, struggling to find his control, found it and fired the fastball over the plate. Davis hit it on the nose, driving it deep to center field and beyond the fence for two runs and a 2-0 lead for the underdog Reds. Oakland Rallies Are Stifled

Was it 1980 or 1990

That the Reds beat the A's in four straight in the World Series?

So...Genny was 22; Becca 20; Sissy 39; Me: 41

Seaver Traded to Reds!

An Enquirer Article That Reminds Me

That it was 1977 when Seaver had such a low ERA for the Reds. Mom was alive. I was with the boutique law firm of Steer, Strauss, White & Tobias, doing utility law for large steel companies and Ohio municipalities.

Genny was nine; Becca was seven. Sissy was 36; Me: 38.

Volquez on historic run
Adjusted ERA pace would be best in history

Edinson Volquez is off to a start that has him on pace for an unprecedented season for not only a Reds starting pitcher, but as the greatest by any starting pitcher in major league baseball history.
While his projected 24 wins (based on the six wins he has heading into today's start against the Cleveland Indians) will fall well short of even Denny McLain's modern record of 31 set in 1969, his projected ERA of 1.12 would match the modern record set by Bob Gibson in 1968 and he would shatter the single-season record in a little-known but important category: Adjusted ERA (also known as ERA+).
The Web site defines Adjusted ERA as a pitcher's earned-run average that also takes into account the affects of the ballparks he pitches in and how his ERA rates in accordance to the league average (a good measuring stick because it takes into account what are considered pitchers' years, like 1968, and hitters' years). An Adjusted ERA of 100 is considered average (the higher the number the better), and according to only 503 times have pitchers posted an Adjusted ERA of 149 or higher, many that occurred prior to 1930.
The all-time Adjusted ERA record is 294 set by Tim Keefe in 1880, while the modern record is 291 set by Pedro Martinez in 2000, thanks in large part to his ERA being a staggering 3.33 less per game than that season's league average. Only 35 times in history has a pitcher finished over 200.
Through eight starts this season, Volquez's Adjusted ERA is a staggering 397 thanks in large part to his ERA being a little over three runs better than the league average of 4.44 (it should be noted that today's Indians starter, Cliff Lee, who is 6-0 with a 0.67 ERA this season, has an Adjusted ERA of 620). For comparison sake, Arizona Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb, who is 9-0 this season with a 2.56 ERA, has an Adjusted ERA of just 175.
10. Kevin Brown, Florida Marlins
9. Pedro Martinez, Montreal Expos
8. Roger Clemens, Toronto Blue Jays
7. Roger Clemens, Houston Astros
6. Dwight Gooden, New York Mets
5. Pedro Martinez, Boston Red Sox
4. Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals
3. Greg Maddux, Atlanta Braves
2. Greg Maddux, Atlanta Braves
1. Pedro Martinez, Boston Red Sox
Edinson Volquez
8. Jose Rijo
7. Bucky Walters
6. Gary Nolan
5. Elmer Riddle
4. Jose Rijo
3. Ewell Blackwell
2. Bucky Walters
1. Tom Seaver*
Edinson Volquez
397 * Seaver was traded to the Reds on June 15 and his statistics reflect only the 20 starts he made for the Reds that season.

I've Wondered

I used to take the Boston Globe over the internet. I wondered how a very mundane New England Patriots team got so superior while my Bengals labor year-after-year in obscurity.

Now I think I see how New England did it: They cheated:

Kagan and Kristol

A thumbnail on Robert Kagan, this dangerous man, who appeared on Charlie Rose this week:

Dangerous because he tries to "mold" facts to lessen the wrongs of the Bush administration and the neocons' role in what Bush did.

Rich is Good Today

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Topic -- Geothermal

"2008 geothermal heat pumps for lowest utility bills, best comfort"
Click here to see a descriptive illustration of several designs of geothermal heat pumps
Q: Our church installed a geothermal heat pump. The contractor told me they are also the most efficient, comfortable way to air-condition and heat homes. Would one be a good choice for my 2,000 sq. ft. home? - Kyle N.
A: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency analyzed six major cities of different climates, from Burlington, VT to Phoenix and found geothermal heat pumps produce the lowest year-round utility bills. Other advantages are their durability, low-maintenance and quiet operation.
To give you an idea of how efficient they are, an older, but still working, central air conditioner may have an efficiency rating of 8. The most efficient geothermal heat pumps have efficiencies as high as 27. If it now costs you $300 per month to cool your house, your monthly cooling electric bills would be cut to only about $90. There would also be winter savings.
Every geothermal heat pump offers an optional desuperheater. During summer, this diverts heat drawn from inside your house to your water heater. With a large family, this can save another $100 per month for water heating. During the winter, some model are also designed to heat water efficiently.
Geothermal heat pumps are so efficient because they use the huge thermal mass of the Earth to cool your home during summer and to heat it during winter. Even though the outdoor air may vary from subzero to 95 degrees year-round, the ground temperature ranges from only about 45 to 75 degrees.
The cost of installing a typical 3-ton (36,000 Btu) geothermal heat pump will cost several thousand dollars more than installing a gas furnace and a central air conditioner. The geothermal heat pump often will pay back the higher initial cost in about eight years or less depending on local utility rates. Geothermal heat pumps typically have a life of 20 years or more.
Many geothermal heat pumps offer all the comfort options similar to standard air conditioners or heat pumps. Models are available with two-stage compressors and efficient variable-speed blowers to closely control temperature and humidity. Some models use ozone-friendly R410A instead of freon.
There are two designs of geothermal heat pumps. One type uses a polyethylene pipe ground loop either in a horizontal trench or vertical holes in your yard. A water/antifreeze solution runs through the pipes which are connected to the unit inside your home. No outdoor unit, with a noisy condenser fan/coils, is required. The indoor compressor makes little sound.
The other design (called DX) uses small copper tubes buried in the ground and the refrigerant flows through them. With this direct heat exchanging with the ground, less tubing is needed. This is often ideal for small lots.
Instant Download or Rush Mail Order Update Bulletin No. 723 - 2008 buyer's guide of 14 single and multilevel geothermal heat pump manufacturers (26 models) listing efficiencies (cooling-EER, heating-COP), output levels, blower speeds, types (loop or DX), features, freon/R410A, many illustrations, closed loop earth coupled applications with descriptions and diagrams and a fuel cost comparison chart.
To order by mail, write to James Dulley, WWW, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244.
Please include $3.00 and a self-addressed stamped business-size envelope.
Q: On cold nights last winter, no matter where I set the thermostat, the house did not get warmer than 60 degrees. It seemed to work okay during the day. What does the nighttime have to do with this? - Mike D.
A: The time of the day has nothing to do with this problem. It sounds as though your heating system does not have enough capacity to keep your house warm during the night because it is colder outside at night.
If it used to keep your house adequately warm day and night, the heating system is malfunctioning now. This can be dangerous as well as uncomfortable. Definitely have your heating system inspected by a technician.

Listen Up! Read This Good Newsletter -- Big Problems Ahead

Could hoarding be next? But read about the new elephant in the trading room: "Investors" in natural gas and oil. Mutual funds, ETF, etc. The market was not made for this and the violitility has gone ballistic. The next big catastrophy in the "markets?"

Dimentia -- From MyBestTme Blog

Justice Sandra Day O'Conner took her husband to work!

June 2009 and The One-Time Sale Rule

Ticking Time Bomb?

So the market won't bottom until June 2009.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A new site for investing in the New York Times:

An Angel Rescues the "Land Poor"

"You know what will happen. She'll ask for schedule after schedule to analyze. Our tax situation is endlessly complicated with trusts, self-employment, capital gains if we sell stocks. It'll cost us a fortune, and the bottom line is Do we sell Procter or do we sell Greenville at fire-sale price. Why pay the thousands she will charge?"

You live your life in a niche. You worry about those things that you think are relevant. You disgard those that appear as not. You think you "know" the basics of the tax law.

You do not bug your wife too much for having all her stocks in Procter & Gamble while you are "land poor" as well with two residential houses (in this horrible real estate market -- one you live in and one for sale.)

You do not push perhaps, things that you should push, to change the risk profile, or if you push you are resisted because,a after all, you are the husband.

"I'll never sell the Procter. That's all I have."

"I'll hang in my office and supply schedules as needed. But you talk to her without me."

Perforce, the time comes. Five munutes into the interview: "Bruce, did you hear that?"

I walk into the dining room. She's beautiful and the rest is in order, from credentials (CPA, CFA) to her toes, so to speak.

"There is no favorable (i.e. no-tax) treatment on your house for sale unless you have lived in it for two out the the last five years." (We're going into the third year of the house being on the market, and vacant) "The old rule about being over 65, etc. went out about eight years ago."

Bling! Valuable Idea number one! One that our two realtors never said anything about. (What do realtors "Do?" -- not that they "should" do tax advice.) So we've got to sell for sure by June 2009, or move back (two blocks away).

I can't avoid the initial instinctive trial lawyer's "jab:" "Can you give me the code reference?" I immediately regret this.

"I'll fax it to you when I get back to my office."

But my main idea here is that with all my cynicism about Wall Street and the hustlers, here, and for a initial and free consultation, was someone who simply brought us good ideas -- and they flowed and flowed thereafter for the next 40 minutes.

For once I am in love with financial planners, CFA's and CPA's, and the world.

"Bruce, I'm selling half my Procter; I want to lower the price on Greenville by $25,000; we're going to pay off our mortgage and your business loans."