Saturday, March 31, 2012

Things to Know - 31 March Update

The Walteria News Bureau noticed that the link to the Keith Olbermann story actually got linked to a Picasa album of the pictures of a recent sea cruise.  That explains my absence for most of March.  However, I know that my iMac is ailing (to be corrected on Monday with a new setup), but I am assuring you that it was not a planned April Fools Prank.  So here is a Keith Olbermann Story - and I hope it works this time:,0,5950063,print.story


"Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love."
       -- Charles M. Schulz
"The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage."
       -- Mark Russell
"McCabe's Law: Nobody _has_ to do _anything_."
       -- Charles McCabe
"TV is chewing gum for the eyes."
       -- Frank Lloyd Wright

Things to Know - 31 March

1.  In all of the discussion and arguments, the bottom line on health care is stated by this article.  Too bad that not all parties see it that way:

2.  If there are any Keith Olbermann fans left out there, or anyone who was and does not care any more after reading the Rolling Stone article on him a few months ago, you should know this:

3.  Emotions are running in all directions on what the Supremes are going to do with the Affordable Care Act.  Here is an opinion that says that the system is going to change, regardless of the outcome:

4.  In Wisconsin, not only is Scott Walker being recalled, his union-busting legislation has been largely declared unconstitutional by a federal judge:

5.  Steve Lopez let us in on the end-of-life days of his father, and the health care system that attends to situations medical attention cannot really help, but prolong misery and be very costly.  Here is another story form the New York TImes:

6.  Why should oil companies get tax breaks...really....why?   The breaks are really just chump change when you compare it to the profits they are breaks for making profits?   All they use the money for is to put in the petty cash fund to lobby congress.   Is this country great, or what....really?:

7.  An abrupt break.   Dick Cavett writes about his favorite topic - Groucho Marx.   I am a Marx and Cavett fan.  Too bad if you are not:

8.  A medical doctor speaks to the position that Romney and other Wannabees have taken, and that is that the "free market" will take care of solving the high cost of medical care.  The conversation needs to get to the basic issues, with specifics on how the free market is better than the Affordable Care Act.  Right now, the only thing I can see is that it is Constitutional to let people die, because that is one of our basic that what we are as a nation?,0,1601319,print.story

9.  Hate and racism in the public square is more evident these days.  Is it our lack of civility in politics, and all the negative ads and bomb-throwing?   Right-wing talk radio?  It's all ugly.   Here's something about it:,0,6444124,print.column


"Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love."
       -- Charles M. Schulz
"The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage."
       -- Mark Russell
"McCabe's Law: Nobody _has_ to do _anything_."
       -- Charles McCabe
"TV is chewing gum for the eyes."
       -- Frank Lloyd Wright

Friday, March 30, 2012

Things to Know - 30 March

Obamacare Bike

1.  Apparently there is more to the resignation from the Senate by Olympia Snowe than we were originally thinking or told:

2.  Robert Scheer always has something bold and factual on what irritates him.  This piece is on the arrogant conservatives on the Supreme Court:

3.  Islamophobia and other overt claims about Obama mostly lurk on the internet.  However, they occasionally surface in the presence of the Wannabees, and get some other theological slams thrown in for good measure.  The Wannabees contribute to the action by not taking the position that McCain did in the last election by the bad/big hair woman at one of his campaign appearances:

4.  The Senate rejected the resolution that would have stopped subsidies to the oil industry.  The Big Energy lobbyists and their bags of money, raised from our purchases at the gas pump, once again proved that money is the monther's milk of politics:

5.  There is a rising sense that the Supreme Court will trash Obama's Affordable Health Care Act.  Then what?    30 million no longer have any health insurance.  Eugene Robinson provides a scenario on what could happen:

6.  Steve Lopez takes a serious look at the deal that Frank McCourt got the Magic Johnson team to buy into.   It's not a pretty assessment.  The game is going to be a lot more than "peanuts and cracker jacks" now.   How about ticket prices on the scale of a Laker game and big parking fees, and that is just for starters:

6.  So, Apple's manufacturing plant in Shenzen, China has been found to be lacking in workers' rights, work safety, compensation, and just about every working condition.   Yes, attention has been focused on this Apple supply-chain provider, and yes, things will probably improve.  However, I think this is all just a public relations reaction associated to a company that is immensely successful and profitable.  We need to look inward at our own supply-chain processes and companies in the USA on what we buy and eat, and are hidden by powerful lobbyists.  It takes a whistle-blower to start the process.  Does anyone remember Karen Silkwood?  She was most-likely murdered for her activism 38 years ago:,0,4316360,print.story

7.  David Brooks is as uncomfortable as George Will on the placement of the Republican Party these days (decades?).  A former conservative Republican is no longer a moderate on the spectrum - too far to the left.  The situation is causing the young and gifted to question the ideology of the party.   Read here about one example in San Diego:

8.  Closing up with the theme that Scheer and Robinson (above #2 and #4) started, Paul Krugman provides his slant on the Supreme Court:


"An intelligence test sometimes shows a man how smart he would have been not to have taken it."
       -- Laurence J. Peter
"The average, healthy, well-adjusted adult gets up at seven-thirty in the morning feeling just plain terrible."
       -- Jean Kerr
"Nothing fails like success."
       -- Gerald Nachman
"Anarchy - it's not the law, it's just a good idea."
       -- Unknown
"I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation." 
       -- George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Things to Know - 29 March


1  Matt Taibbi can always be counted on a thoroughly engrossing piece of researched journalism that finds a dark side of the under belly of a bad issue.  Here he is at work on the Bank of America:

2.  If you do not know what Rachel Maddow is, it's time to start learning.   She is a dynamic liberal who can skewer the opposition with logic and grace.  She is on MSNBC in the evenings.  She has written a book, and here is a brief look at its content:

3.  The insidious assault on voters' rights by the GOP is a sad reflection on the declining state of democracy in this country.  They cannot win as our Constitution guarantees, so the Republican legislatures in red states are doing everything they can to prevent voting to occur:

4.  Katrina vanden Heuvel is a predictable liberal editor, and speaks from the left-of-center.  Putting that comment aside, her article here is right on regarding the GOP:

5.  The sleaze that has permeated the workings of our election process, the fealty to Grover Norquist by the GeeOpee, and the the preservation of the MIC just makes one ill.   Apparently there is no one left of the good Republicans:

6.  If you ever feel remorse about putting in a roll of quarters into the slot machine, and losing it all - don't feel bad.  This guy put in $16.5 million into the Porkie Slot, pulled the handle about 3 times, and lost it all:,0,4559130,print.story

7.  After absorbing Matt Taibbi's column (see #1 above), one has to really wonder about this one:,0,1830383,print.story


"There was no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse."
       -- Quentin Crisp
"Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had."
       -- Michael Crichton
"Fortune can, for her pleasure, fools advance, / And toss them on the wheels of Chance."
       -- Juvenal
"I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education."
       -- Wilson Mizner
"There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full."
       -- Henry Kissinger

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Things to Know - 28 March


1.  Thom Hartmann and a capsule presentation of some stuff:

2.  First, it was the Scopes trial.  Now it is this.  Tennessee, is one swell civilization of the 8th century:

3.  The Trayvon Martin murder has re-opened the discussion on race and injustice:

4.  Perhaps it is the fallout from the Occupy Movement, but there is a greater recognition of where the wealth has gone, stayed, and divided this country more than ever before:

5.  The NY Times has its perspective on the current argument before the Supreme Court.   What I find sickeningly amusing about the GOP opposition is that they came up with the "individual mandate" term and idea when they were countering "HillaryCare".  Now that it  an Obama idea and program, the Republicans are dead set against him:

6.  Ross Douthat of the NY Times contributes the the myriad of perspectives hanging on the decision of the Supreme Court.   Personally, I am troubled by a decision that interprets limitations of the Constitution on one hand versus the intent to maintain a suitable level of health maintenance for all.   Suffice it to say, there are endless variations on this theme, but cutting off your nose to spite your face does not cut it for me:

7.  This editorial on the California Youth Authority speaks to the issue of an agency that has grown stale and ineffective because of a lack of interest in it viable over the years.  Now, it is up to the local counties in California to try and cobble up a system that works:,0,1694604,print.story

8.  Is there no end to what the Big Energy lobby will do to cover up their dirt?  Guess not:


"Because we don't think about future generations, they will never forget us."
       -- Henrik Tikkanen
"The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps."
       -- Benjamin Disraeli
"I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty."
       -- George Burns
"A cult is a religion with no political power."
       -- Tom Wolfe

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Things to Know - 27 March


1.  In what should really be the biggest argument before the Supreme Court, we need to have some knowledge of what is going on with the presentation of the Affordable Health Care Act:

2.  The latest news in video and text format from Thom Hartmann:

3.  The LA Times had am editorial on Monday that supported the individual mandate to require the purchase of health insurance.  Now, the Washington Post has joined in with a supporting opinion:

4.  If you do not get any additional information, it is because my old pre-intel iMac is about ready to buy the farm.  I am contemplating getting a Mac-mini and an LED monitor.  I am going to back up some photos and other documents right now.   I do have a laptop that I can use in the mean time, but it's just a small iBook with limited action.


"One of the greatest pleasures of life is conversation."
       -- Sydney Smith
"A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: it would be hell on earth."
       -- George Bernard Shaw
"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."
       -- Oscar Wilde
"Never try to tell everything you know. It may take too short a time."
       -- Norman Ford
"What we call 'Progress' is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance."
       -- Havelock Ellis

Monday, March 26, 2012

Things to Know - 26 March

1.  So, let's get back into this world of newsy stuff that disturbs the mind and spoils your CHI (something learned while away).  The Robert's Court certainly creates swirls of angst:

2.  In a double-whammy that floods the political funding, the owners who have their own pile of dough to give millions now have the ability to have their corporations give directly to political pots.   What is it going to be like when the MIC (military-industrial complex) piles up money to hawkish conservatives?   There should be a law...wait, there is one,....or what happened to it?:

3.  The Parking Lot.   To all of you who wonder what Urban Planners and the Santa Monica News Bureau worry about, read this.  The automobile is not just a machine that gobbles up fossil fuel and leaves us with collateral damage, it also gobbles up our useful acreage in the worst ways.  Creative solutions to both situations require forward leaning thinking:

4.  Steve Lopez has this column that really gets my old blood boiling.   The smoke-and mirror deceptive, and obscured costs of medical care are rip-offs and a shame to our medical care system.  Going to get tests at labs (blood, MRI, x-rays, etc) is a testament to the corrupt practice of hiding costs and piling on fictitious phrases that just steal from Medicare and leave consumers close to bankruptcy.   It does not seem that there is any effort by the medical community to police itself, and if there is, where is it?  Emergency and Urgent Care centers are particularly adept at figuring out how to take advantage of ripping off the system.  We just got back from a visit of several islands in the Caribbean....all of which have a public health care system that provide the basic needs in a well-regulated environment.  So why do we have tea-bagged crazed zealots running around, planning to demonstrate against a federal health care program?   Go figure:,0,3717408,print.column

5.  To all of those Ron Paul applauders, you got your wish; let them die:

That's all for now.  

"Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor."
       -- James Baldwin
"The desire to take medicine is perhaps the greatest feature which distinguishes man from animals."
       -- Sir William Osler
"A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds."
       -- Sir Francis Bacon
"He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife."
       -- Douglas Adams
"I can't complain, but sometimes I still do."
       -- Joe Walsh

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Things to Know - 25 March

March 24, 2012

Cheney Receives Heart Transplant; Bush Still on Waiting List for Brain

Halliburton Performs Reconstruction of Former VP

FALLS CHURCH, VA (The Borowitz Report) – Former Vice President Dick Cheney received a heart transplant today, but former President George W. Bush remained on a waiting list for a brain, hospital officials confirmed.

As part of a government contract signed while he was still Vice President, Halliburton performed the reconstruction work on Mr. Cheney's circulatory system at a cost to taxpayers of $14.2 billion.

The doctor who performed the surgery called the procedure "extremely invasive – just the way the Vice President wanted it."

A hospital spokesman said that Mr. Cheney was expected to make a full recovery, but that he was "somewhat disoriented" coming out of anesthesia: "When we asked him who the President of the United States was, he said, 'Is it still me?'"

Former President Bush made an appearance at the former Vice President's hospital, hanging a "Mission Accomplished" banner in Mr. Cheney's room hours before the operation was completed.

2.  While I was out cruising the Caribbean, my daughter-in-law (Sirinya Tritipeskul Matute), and my son - Juan Michael, filled in with several entries to the blog edition.
Please check out -  to see what you should be knowing.   Sirinya just may take over this operation, since I had so much peace of mind not worrying about the Wannabees, the Occupation, and the utter dysfunction of Congress.   It's going to take a couple of days to spool up on the news and ramp up to stuff to know.


"Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea."
       -- Robert A. Heinlein
"The lion and the calf shall lie down together but the calf won't get much sleep."
       -- Woody Allen
"One of the most obvious facts about grownups to a child is that they have forgotten what it is like to be a child."
       -- Randall Jarrell
"Sometimes I worry about being a success in a mediocre world."
       -- Lily Tomlin
"Write a wise saying and your name will live forever."
       -- Anonymous

You've got to be kidding, GM

My family owns a 1999 Chevy Malibu that looks like this car. I am soured on GM and Chevys, in particular, after our experience owning this car. Source: Wikipedia

The transportation geek in me was piqued by the recent publication of a New York Times story on GM's efforts to market cars to Millennials. (The Atlantic's Jordan Weissman added his own analysis here.) Allow me to explain why.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What does Prop 13 have to do with rising college tuition?

Twelve UCLA students sat in the middle of Wilshire and Westwood, the busiest intersection in LA and possibly west of the Mississippi, to raise hell about raising tuition in November 2011. Some were also seeking to raise awareness about the consequences of Proposition 13. Note: the student with the black jacket is my friend and former roommate Renee.
Source: LA Times.
It started this morning when this girl I know from elementary school expressed her anger (nicely put) on Facebook about the Cal State system's decision to temporarily cease admitting students for the spring semester due to fiscal constraints.

Yes, that is pretty upsetting. I get that.

But my ears perked up when the girl went off on cutting "bureaucrat salaries". Not one to rein in my opinions, I pointed out some damning facts:
  1. Most of us bureaucrats (myself included) are not rolling in money, especially those amongst us who are early in our government careers. Most of us work really hard, with little to no prospects for merit raises or COLA adjustments. I work in a public university system because I believe in its academic, research and service mission. This is not sexy talk to say the least. But I'm still young enough (or stupid enough) to be optimistic. 
  2. State support for UC and CSU has diminished substantially over the past 10 years. This year, for the first time, students are making a larger contribution to UCLA operating budget than the state is. While places like UCLA have held the line in the cost of educating each student, the state's subsidy has declined in real dollars, and while philanthropic dollars have filled the void here and there (as UCLA does not provide need-based aid the way private schools do), we've resorted to raising tuition to backfill the difference.
  3. Forty years after its passage, we are now viscerally impacted by the the profoundly devastating effects of Proposition 13 and the way that it restructured public finance and tax revenue generation.

America Underwater: New Tumblr blog

I encourage you to check out this Tumblr called America Underwater.

Screenshot from America Underwater Tumblog

"America Underwater" is a project of two nonprofits, Rebuild the Dream and The New Bottom Line, to personalize the impact of the housing crisis.
Over the past two months, dozens of Americans have submitted their stories to this Tumblr. They send pictures of themselves holding a sheet of paper stating the extent to which their mortgages are underwater.

There are some prevailing themes:
  • mortgage companies that have been noncommunicative with their customers
  • customers who were erroneously informed that they needed to cease making payments in order to get a principal or interest rate reduction, only to have the mortgage holder commence foreclosure procedings
  • homeowners who have been unable to refinance their mortgages to reflect current, lower, interest rates 
Whether you sympathize with all of the content submissions or not, I think it is worth a perusal.

The New Suburban Poverty

Since the early 2000s demographers have noted a trend of increased poverty in suburban areas.  The housing crisis compounded this phenomenon by disproportionately affecting suburban wealth.  Lisa McGirr, Professor of History at Harvard, brilliantly presents the regional inversion of poverty, the complications it induces, and the challenges to rectifying it.  This is a must-read if you're interested in understanding regional real estate trends in the next couple of decades.

-Juan (Michael)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Reflections on a Goldman Sachs exec's resignation

An upper-up at Goldman Sachs took to the New York Times to (fill in curse word) voice his displeasure with the company and its culture today as he tendered his resignation.

The part that really resonated with me was the concern that the Goldman Sachs refugee expressed regarding the changes he'd witnessed over the past ten years in Goldman's culture. He said that mid- and senior-level executives at Goldman were unethical and heartless when they talked about strategies to maximize profits. And he was very, very worried when he saw junior analysts starting to speak the same talk.

Goldman had become, in this guy's eyes, a place that was rewarding things that did not sit well with him - things that shouldn't really sit well with any of us.

It made me think of the institutions that have employed me in the past (and present). What kind of behavior did they reward? And what kind of values did that imbue as a result?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Making the Streets of San Francisco Easier to Park On

San Francisco’s parking experiment is the latest major attempt to improve the uneasy relationship between cities and the internal combustion engine — a century-long saga that has seen cities build highways and tear them down, widen streets and narrow them, and require more parking at some times and discourage it at others — all to try to make their downtowns accessible but not too congested.

More At

Sirinya and I (J6/Michael) were students of Don Shoup.

Monday, March 12, 2012

March Madness is here/Relishing the underdog

As I write this, I'm not even sure if the Bruins are going to get an invitation to the NIT, but it almost doesn't matter to me at least because I was suddenly reminded of how nice it is to read about a victorious underdog making it in the realm of sports.

From SBNation last December.

You see, the New York Times just published a lovely piece about journey undertaken by the Cal State Long Beach basketball team to a guaranteed spot in the NCAA tournament (aka March Madness.) (Source: "How Long Beach State Got In", March 13).

Yeah, I didn't know they had a good basketball team either. (They do, however, have access to some of the finest bike infrastructure in the country.)

So anyway, the New York Times talked about the team's magic sauce:

  • four returning seniors (a rarity, it seems, in a sport where it is lucrative for the best players to leave after one year of college ball for the NBA); 
  • discipline; 
  • steady improvements in their record; 
  • and a coach that seems level-headed and skilled (Don Monson was at the helm of the Gonzaga team in 1999, when they made their fairy tale appearance at the NCAA Final Four. Even I heard about that run to glory, and it was 1999; I was living under a rock.) 

The story itself, imho, was well-written; the way the story brought us through those last excruciating three games Cal State Long Beach had to win in order to get its NCAA berth (the second appearance since 1999) reminded me of why people get excited about sports, and why I like reading about scholar-athletes.

The Cal State Long Beach team has played consistently well all season long. The coach went on the record talking about how much he admired a particular athlete on his team, Casper Ware, commenting on how much this athlete has grown as both a player and as a person, in his four years as a student.

It sounds like the Cal State Long Beach basketball team earned its spot in the NCAA tournament. Congratulations and I hope the players have the time of their lives in the coming weeks.

Why calling my generation the "Go-Nowhere" generation is crap

Yesterday, the New York Times published an op-ed by some people named Todd and Victoria Buckholz basically calling my generation slackers ("The Go-Nowhere Generation", March 10)

I do not appreciate this.

The Buckholzes say that our society needs to yank out what they see as a safety net to get young people "back on the road", as they lament our young people's lack of mobility (as measured by the declination in people under 18 obtaining driver's licenses and the "downward trend" in bicycle sales) as a sign of the deterioration of our country's historical inclination toward "mobility" and "pushiness".

I do not know what planet the Buckholzes are from. But as your guest blogger, let me tell you how it is (at least for me, since this is a blog, after all).

Lets' start with their insinuation that the downward decline in the obtainment of driver's licenses by the population under 18 is bad.

I got my driver's license three weeks before I turned 18. There were a variety of factors that influenced this.

1.) The first was financial. I was an ambitious high school kid -- I wanted to go to to college 3,000 miles away to Smith (I had my sights on attending this school since I was 12). Amongst my peers for whom car ownership was not funded by their parents, it was commonplace to work at least 20 hours a week. Because I knew from my reading of the Fiske Guide to Colleges that Smith was a selective school (maybe not as selective as Pomona or UCLA, but still selective enough), I opted to spend the 20 hours a week I could have spent funding car ownership studying and participating in extra-curricular activities instead.

Note: I was privileged in that I did not have to work after school in order to support my family, and that I was able to parlay my summer earnings to cover incidentals such as lunches at school, clothes, and exam fees for the school year.

Also, note: my younger sister had access to a car, the cost of which was mostly covered by my parents. She got her driver's license when she turned 16. We would drive our 87 Accord to her high school, which was just 2.5 miles away from home (too far to walk), and from there, I would ride the school bus or the MTA bus the rest of the way to my school, which was another 3 miles away. By doing this, we determined we saved at least $500 in gas money and parking fees, which was not chump change to us!

2.) The second was environmental. By carpooling to my sister's school (treating her school's lot as, in effect, a park-in-ride lot), and then riding the school or MTA bus, we incurred fewer vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in a solo driving arrangement. I rode the school bus or the MTA bus and walked a LOT in high school, even in a suburban environment, which deepened my determination to live in a more walkable community with better transit headways as an adult.

3.) The third was that I had other stuff to do than get a driver's license (see #1)

4) By the time I did get my act together to get a driver's license, California made its rules regarding the licensure of teenage drivers far stricter. You couldn't transport people other than your parents for the first six months of holding a license if you got your license before you turned 18. Yeah. Patty got grandfathered, but I didn't, so I waited until I turned 18.

From what I gather, the rules regarding the licensure of teenage drivers has gotten even STRICTER over the past 15 years. The Buckholzes do not acknowledge this nationwide trend in their editorial. 

As for not being mobile, as I noted, I went to college 3,000 miles away. For my junior year, I attended Pomona (a decision influenced by my desire to sing in front of my parents and the fact that Pomona is a fantastic school) and I almost studied abroad. I lived in a big east coast city for three years after my graduation before moving back to my hometown (Los Angeles) to take advantage of in-state tuition for graduate school (I benefited from AB 540, even though I was born and raised in the US).

After my graduation, the only reason I stayed in LA was because I met my husband.

So the Buckholzes can suck it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Take off the blinders: a commentary on class in higher ed

The communities at the three institutions of higher education that I associate with - Pomona, Smith and UCLA - have been talking a LOT about class lately. Naturally this has me thinking.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Guest Post: Why Juan VI and I aren't homeowners

Firstly I'd like to take a moment to thank J5 for allowing me and Juan 6 to be guest bloggers. Hello - we'll do our best to enlighten.

Before becoming a higher education fundraiser, I was an urban planner interested in transportation and social policy. In fact, I'm still into those things.

So I read this analysis in The Atlantic Monthly on why fewer young adults are becoming homeowners than, say, their Baby Boomer parents with great interest. They posted a follow-up entry highlighting comments from readers on why they were or weren't homeowners ("We wish like hell we hadn't become homeowners").

Juan 6 and I rent a rent-controlled apartment in the city of Santa Monica, a well-to-do beach city with wide sidewalks, good weather, and good schools. Every resident lives within two blocks of a bus stop. The street in front of our apartment is getting a bike lane. Most days, I like living in Santa Monica.

I also know that, unless things change dramatically (like my take-home income), we will likely leave Santa Monica if we start a family.

As DINKs (double income, no kids), my husband and I are doing pretty well, but does not make sense for us to become homeowners at this time.

But I am also making decisions based on the experiences of my parents, and my familiarity with the run-up in housing prices here in Los Angeles.

We lived in East Hollywood until we bought our house in an inner-ring suburb in the mid 1990s. Initially my dad wanted to realize his dream of living in Larchmont, but he's a bellman, so we wound up in the Valley for reasons I now think were faulty. The Valley is no safer than the City (especially if you're a pedestrian); it is too damn hot; the schools aren't necessarily better; and the transit grid doesn't have sufficient headways to be appealing to choice riders.

I still lament the following places we passed on that later went on to appreciate at a far higher rate than the place we bought:
  • a house on Alexandria north of Melrose near the Bicycle District
  • a house on Aloha Street in trendy Los Feliz, near Marshall High School
  • a 3bed on Lucerne Blvd, south of Melrose, near Paramount in Larchmont Village
Of course, it is important to bear in mind that in the mid 90s, the "city" was a mess. Schools were bad. Entire business corridors were blown out due to the 1992 riots. A lot of the housing stock for sale was in bad condition due to the '94 earthquake. Urban planners probably could've predicted the renaissance we've experienced in the City, but no real estate agent told my parents that. 

So, now, 16 years later, the parents still own their house and they are stuck in place. Their work commutes are long; my mom's is nearly 40 miles each way.

It also turns out that home maintenance is expensive. They tell you to budget one-half of one-percent of the total sale price of your house for home maintenance. Let me say this in bold: That is not sufficient.

And when you become a homeowner, you end up putting on blinders. Things you never would have said or done as a renter, like balking to the construction of additional housing units to ameliorate your area's housing shortage, are second nature to homeowners. Homeowners don't want change, even if that change is for the betterment of their community's less-enfranchised members.

I see all of this and think, no freaking way. Renting has provided me with the flexibility to relocate to where I can find the best job opportunities, which I believe in turn will enhance my lifetime earnings potential.

Also, I have ideas about the kinds of housing I want to live in during different phases of parenthood -- a bigger house when the kids are little and their crap takes up tons of space; an apartment near the subway when my kids are teenagers and I want them to use their bikes, walk, and transit to get around. Renting will afford me the flexibility to do this.

So I get it that baby boomers might be confused about why people like me (educated, DINKs) are renters. Don't worry. We've done the math. We know that cities and neighborhoods change. We know what we are doing.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Something to Know

All of the stuff that I have sent out in the last few months is archived in a blog that my son and his wife started up.....and now I know it is there, and it's pretty cool.   So, if there are any postings in my absence, they will be done by the Santa Monica News Bureau and posted to that site which is located at:


"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
       -- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"For centuries, theologians have been explaining the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing."
       -- H.L. Mencken
"When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators."
       -- P. J. O'Rourke
"Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't."
       -- Mark Twain
"Health is the thing that makes you feel that now is the best time of the year."
       -- Franklin P. Adams

Things to Know - 8 March

Caution © Tim Eagan,Deep Cover,caution,progress,gop,candidates,republican,election

The year 2011 was a busy year, and had no time for our usual sea cruise time.  Tomorrow, the 8th of March, we will make up for lost time and be out of normal internet access for a few weeks.  There may be some time in Fort Lauderdale, before sailing on 10 March, to send out a few quips.   Returning on or about 26 March, there may be some occasional contributions by my son and daugher-in-law (the "Santa Monica News Bureau"), but no specific plans.  Lynne and I will be traveling with my college room mate and his wife (John and Ellen Benson - the "Albany News Bureau").   John is a former Coast Guard warrior, and will be in charge of lookout for Somali Pirates as we navigate the "exotic ports" (so says Celebrity Cruise Lines) of the Caribbean.   This is it for today - well, at least so far, unless something really really stupid happens out on the campaign trail:

March 7, 2012

Overjoyed Romney Celebrates Voters Hating Him Marginally Less Than Santorum

Mitt: 'Voters Want the Lesser of Two Evils, and I am Lesser'

BOSTON (The Borowitz Report) – Moments after squeaking out a razor-thin victory in Super Tuesday's crucial Ohio primary, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was in an exuberant mood, telling supporters in Boston, "I stand before you tonight as the man people hate slightly less than Rick Santorum."

Mr. Romney said that he hoped to take the momentum of being marginally less despised than Mr. Santorum all the way to the Republican convention in Tampa.

"The voters of Ohio have said that they want the lesser of two evils," he told the crowd, "and I am lesser."

But in the Santorum camp, the former Pennsylvania senator showed no signs that he is ready to get out of the race: "In states like Oklahoma and Tennessee, voters spoke loudly and clearly that they can't stand Mitt more than they detest me.  That's what I call a recipe for success."

Meanwhile, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich vowed to stay in the race, noting that voters in his home state of Georgia hated both Messrs. Romney and Santorum more than they loathed him.

"This race isn't about winning or losing," he said.  "This is about me standing in front of a microphone and listening to the sound of my own voice for as long as possible."

And former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin hinted that she might have a role to play if the GOP contest becomes deadlocked: "Remember, it was my historic lowering of the bar that made this Republican race possible."


"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
       -- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"For centuries, theologians have been explaining the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing."
       -- H.L. Mencken
"When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators."
       -- P. J. O'Rourke
"Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't."
       -- Mark Twain
"Health is the thing that makes you feel that now is the best time of the year."
       -- Franklin P. Adams

Things to Know - 7 March

Rush Limbaugh prostitutes himself

1. This is an interesting look at how a biased political support of a so-called "think tank" can breed contempt and disharmony.   It is also a look at the Koch Brothers and how their petrol riches leech into the infrastructure of institutions that create political influence to cement a grip on the upper domain of the 1%:

2.  Take time out for a comedic relief.   If nothing comes of his run, at least Mitt Romney has had his chance to audition for American Idol in a very expensive way:

3.  The adage " reap what you sow" has never been more spot on than the latest meltdown of right-wing blather from Flush Slimebaugh:

4.  This is a vision of economic parity regarding taxation from one whose roots were were/are nurtured in the 99%:

5.  To all of my airline industry friends, and any others who suffered through corporate reorganization, this one at American Airlines is a sick one.  An employee who hires on at a young age and hangs in for a period long enough to be dead meat on the employment market should they quit, pulling health and pensions benefits out from under is not a nice thing:

6.  Romney will come out of this Super Tuesday affair more battered and worse-off.  Can the Republican Party bosses figure out a solution?...probably not:

7.  A study of the comparative analysis of our health care system with those in ALL other countries in the world reveals that the USA is the costliest.  I received my newsletter from the Tea Party today (yes, I read lots of different stuff for this project), and one of the paragraphs stated that the USA has the best and "greatest health care system in the world".  Okay....okay?....huh huh:,0,1734961,print.story

8.  This NY Times editorial pretty well sums up the GeeOpee antics to date:,0,1734961,print.story


"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
       -- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"For centuries, theologians have been explaining the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing."
       -- H.L. Mencken
"When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators."
       -- P. J. O'Rourke
"Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't."
       -- Mark Twain
"Health is the thing that makes you feel that now is the best time of the year."
       -- Franklin P. Adams

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Things to Know - 6 March Trailer

The big fat subject was probably too big to fly through the cloud, so, instead of admitting that I forgot, let's just leave it at that:


"In the land of the skunks he who has half a nose is king." 
       -- Chris Farley
"This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it."
       -- William Goldman
"The road to hell is paved with adverbs."
       -- Stephen King
"It is the nature of all greatness not to be exact."
       -- Edmund Burke
"If they give you ruled paper, write the other way."
       -- Juan Ramon Jiminez

Things to Know - 6 March

1.  For all my fellow Joe Bageant fans:

2.  As somewhat of a follow-up to yesterday's story about Nixon's games with LBJ and the Vietnam War, we have a refreshed archive form the NY Times that settles in on Nixon's taped comments on some issues on abortion, and other dangerously silly things he put down on tape:

3.  Back in the USSR, Putin wept in his victory speech to the gathered masses of adulating government workers.  Here's the the story:

4.  The "last words" or an eulogy are normally solemn and kindly.  Not this one.  It rips in a way you cannot imagine, on a deceased that only a dead possum could love:

5.  The unusually cruel weather systems that are passing over and through parts of the USA are again provoking the questions on what is causing all of this.  Try this one:

6.  The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson takes the GeeOpee Wannabees to task for their apparent lack of leadership and cowardice in not calling out Limbaugh.  As George Will said on Sunday about the response from the Republican Party to Limbaugh's outburst - "depressing":

7.  As a follow-up to #3 above, Masha Gessen has published a new book about Putin, and here is a preview of what she presents:

8.  Why are you getting this one?  To use a phrase often used by the subject - I don't know.  It just seems very cool to present an article about how values and character are developed in one's self:

9.  Gasoline prices.   On the very high side right now.  Probably going to be there for a long time.   Maybe consumers will make adjustments on automobile purchases and driving habits....and maybe not, but probably will.  So, as the political noise starts to heat up for the general election, keep the following story in mind:,0,7958822,print.story

10.  Gotta have one dig on Romney before I go.  His fear mongering on Iran is sad.  He talks tough, and he is not capable of getting his facts straight.  He wants to take on Iran in a big way, and yet he cannot get himself to take on Limbaugh.  Did not know that a robot could be programmed to be cowardly:


"In the land of the skunks he who has half a nose is king." 
       -- Chris Farley
"This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it."
       -- William Goldman
"The road to hell is paved with adverbs."
       -- Stephen King
"It is the nature of all greatness not to be exact."
       -- Edmund Burke
"If they give you ruled paper, write the other way."
       -- Juan Ramon Jiminez

Monday, March 5, 2012

Things to Know - 5 March

I normally send out several links.  Today, I am busy with things that won't allow much computer time.  So, this may be it.  I usually read many articles and cull through them to figure out what is interesting and, at the same time, concise, and not too long (which would lose your attention).  However, in starting to read this one, I was naturally intrigued by what Tricky Dicky did as our President.  In this article, Nixon is revealed to be more like Treasonous Dick.  It is engrossing, and disturbing.  The Vietnam war probably could have ended many years sooner than it did.  All those events changed and ended the lives of many people (millions). This one you must read:

"If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace."
       -- John Lennon
"Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true."
       -- Bertrand Russell
"There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there's only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running round after happiness. If you make up your mind not to be happy there's no reason why you shouldn't have a fairly good time."
       -- Edith Wharton
"I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there."
       -- Richard Feynman
"To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk."
       -- Thomas A. Edison

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Things to Know - 4 March

1. On Rush Limbaugh's apology- He did so because his revenue stream of advertising was under stress and falling.  Not because he had a moral re-thinking, no not at all.  I am going to try and find the call-out that Rachel Maddow did on her show the other night (if there is a clip.  It was an Emmy award performance on her part:

2.  Through the wonders of the Internet, here is the above-referenced story by Rachel Maddow on the subject of the lack of sensitivity by the Republican committee Darrel Issa on the subject of contraception, and the rejection of Sandra Fluke (a Georgetown University law student) to testify on the issue of contraception (because she was not "qualified to do so by representative Issa).  This all led to the firestorm created by a talk radio host who referred to Ms. Fluke in very vulgar terms  Ms. Maddow is masterful at her job:

3.  Health Care, and why it costs so much here in the USA, than every other place in the world.  If you need a good argument on why we need to reform it, or if you think it is the best system in the world and we should leave it as it is - in either case, you need to read this.  Simply stated, the bottom line is that we have to transition from thinking that health care is a business to that it is the function of prevention and healing.  One not of explanation of an acronym; OCED -  Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development:

4.  Once again, we need to revisit the issue of the Keystone Pipeline to restate what is now very obvious.   The USA now produces more oil than it has in the past.  Our consumption oil is less than what we produce, so we are now an exporter of oil.  So, why do we need to take Canada tar shale through a pipeline through America's heartland  to Texas to be refined, so that it will ultimately be shipped to the global market (read China, India, and other petrol-hungry rising countries?).  Makes not sense, and carries the possibility (probability, more likely) of contaminating our drinking water all along the path of the pipeline.  Shoving people off of their lands with eminent domain statutes, and messing up the landscape, and dripping toxic substances into the aquifer - for what?:

5.  Just for the record, the communications company that Rush Limbaugh is employed by is in the line of investments owned by Bain Capitol.  Mitt Romney is known in parts as "the King of Bain".  This is just one more unintended gaffe that Mitt-bot is going to have navigate, and explain all along the future campaign trail:

6.  George Will, is despondent on the prospects of either Romney or Santorum gaining the White House.  So, he tries to put on his best face in urging conservatives to consider the "equipoise" between the congress and "an overreaching executive branch", and the fate of putting in more conservatives on the Supreme Court.  What he is not saying is that nothing that he cherishes or hopes for may happen.  It's probably tough for a pundit like George Will to be optimistic.  This was not a good week for anyone on his side of the center:

7.  Thomas Friedman, as usual writes about obvious positions.  He does have a following, and this is a pretty good vision for some of his followers.  This may be you.  If he is not one of your go-to guys, then you may pass it up:

8.  To all my friends who are/were teachers.  Family members who were/are teachers.  To anyone who can remember a great experience with a "teacher".  Did I leave anyone out?- This is for you:,0,6762901,print.column


"The only obstacles to the future are the ignorant and intolerant dispositions of the many who walk among us"
       -- Anonymous
"Marriage is the only adventure open to the cowardly."
       -- Voltaire
"Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite. This is a very comforting thought-- particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things."
       -- Woody Allen
"Every journalist has a novel in him, which is an excellent place for it."
       -- Russel Lynes
"It matters not whether you win or lose; what matters is whether I win or lose."
       -- Darrin Weinberg

Saturday, March 3, 2012

For Your Afternoon Tea Time Discussion

March 3, 2012

In Positive Economic Sign, Republicans Starting to Say Obama Wasn't Born in US Again

S & P Birther Index Posts Big Gains

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – In what some experts are calling a strong indicator of improvement in the economy, Republicans in recent weeks have begun renewing their claims that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

While most economists agree that any significant improvement in the US economy is generally accompanied by an uptick in GOP questions about Mr. Obama's place of birth, there is now an econometric tool for measuring the increase in those claims: the so-called S & P Birther Index.

The Birther Index, established in 2008, measures the occurrences of such words as "birth certificate," "Kenya," and "wasn't born here" in Republican statements about the President, and has proven to be a surprisingly reliable tool for tracking improvements in the economy.

Harland Dorinson, the economist who devised the S & P Birther Index, said that as the economy recovers the index also shows a  strong surge in statements questioning the President's Christianity.

"As unemployment started going down, we saw an increase in references to Mr. Obama being a Muslim," he said.  "This is generally a very bullish sign for the economy."

But Mr. Dorinson was quick to add that while the surge in references to Mr. Obama being "an Islamic socialist born in a mud-hut in Nairobi" is encouraging, the economy is not out of the woods yet.

"We won't be fully in a recovery until the Republicans start calling him a Wiccan," he said.  "And if they start saying he's a Satanist who practices human sacrifice and drinks the blood of children, then it'll be time to pop open the champagne."


"Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another."
       -- Anatole France
"If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read "President Can't Swim"."
       -- Lyndon B. Johnson
"The best way to keep children home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant--and let the air out of the tires."
       -- Dorothy Parker
"Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees."
       -- David Letterman

Things to Know - 3 March


1.  This American Life is a great podcast.  I listened to one part last night, and it is probably something you should know about.   It concerns a Puerto Rican NY Bronx resident by the name of Louis Ortiz - a laid off (terminated?) Verizon phone guy, who just happens to look like Obama's twin brother.  There is this short video about a movie that is trying to get off started, and you just might want to listen to the podcast:

2.  In subtle ways, the opposition to the GeeOpie guys is starting to pull on the noose that the Wannabees have put around their neck.  Aided by a totally crude and bombastic super Porkie (R.Limbaugh), the Repubnicants are rapidly finding themselves on the wrong side of what should not be issues:

3.  There is much discussion and concern on the phenomena of Super PACs and what it is doing and will do to our understanding of a free and open democratic process in elections.  To that end, here is a list of the top 10 donors to the system, who they are, how much money is involved, and to whom the money flows:

4.  Santorum has a narrow corner where he espouses his views on social issues, but he display a not-ready-for-prime portfolio on other issues, federal drug policy being one:

5.  Thom Hartman give his views on the news and of particular interest is Georgia's proposed legislation to criminalize union picketing in front of businesses:

6.  Here you have an article that says that we are witnessing the "death of the Republican Party".   Yes, I agree.  Its been hijacked by the GeeOpee (or GeeOpie).  Redistricting, in some case, and self-destruction in others, is what is happening.  If the improvement in the economy takes hold and continues, and the Wannabees keep killing each other, and the goofy various Republican-controlled state legislators (and sheriffs) keep on going the way they are, the voters will throw them away:

7.  Joe Nocera offers the opinion that a Santorum nomination and a subsequently humiliating loss in the general election is probably the quickest way to rehabilitate the GeeOpee pardee into once again being a viable Republican Party:

8.  The City of El Segundo is a small enclave just south of the Los Angeles Airport.  It is full of aerospace firms, and one huge refinery complex run by Standard Oil Chevron.  Chevron is so big and well connected to key city officials that it pays or ignores whatever city taxes it chooses, and gets away with it:,0,5046388,print.story


"Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another."
       -- Anatole France
"If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read "President Can't Swim"."
       -- Lyndon B. Johnson
"The best way to keep children home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant--and let the air out of the tires."
       -- Dorothy Parker
"Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees."
       -- David Letterman