Apples and Oranges

In the wake of Newtown and the failure of Congress to “Do Something Do Anything” about gun laws, various people have suggested bulletproof backpacks or even uniforms for school children, saying  “It’s no different to having a seatbelt in a car.”


No, it’s very different from a seatbelt in a car.

First off, car crashes happen much more often than school shootings. If you live in a major metropolitan area, there was a car crash in your city today. I can almost promise that. I can also almost promise that there was not a school shooting in your city today. School shootings are rare; car crashes are not. It’s reasonable to take a routine precaution against injury for something that is unfortunately an everyday occurrence.

Further, I’d like to point out that we call them automobile accidents. Almost nobody intends to get into a car crash! While accidental shootings happen, nobody accidentally takes a loaded gun to a school. That’s premeditated. Always.

I might have bought “It’s no different from having a fire extinguisher.” After all, school fires are rare, but we’re awfully glad fire extinguishers are there if they happen. Oh, but we aren’t talking about equipping every student with a $269 fire extinguisher, now are we?

Don’t dare get on the “don’t you care about the safety of the children” high horse. If we really gave a darn about the children’s safety, we wouldn’t let schoolboys play football.

Speaking of schools and gun safety, I hope this disabuses anyone of the notion that armed teachers are an answer. I fully support your right to own a gun. I just don’t support your right to have it on campus.

In Closing: gee no kidding; speaking of job creation; To Big To Fail should be Too Big To Exist; empty calories; and Happy May Day.

We don’t want any trouble

Nobody wants to live in a bad neighborhood, right? And certainly nobody wants to live in the kind of place where the police are continually coming around.

But consider this situation. Imagine you get beaten up. As bad luck would have it, it happens a couple more times. The third time, the cops call your landlord and order him to evict you. After all, you’re a troublemaker. Bad things happen around you, and this town doesn’t want your sort here. Sound far fetched? Unfortunately, laws all over the country designed to make it easier to move known drug dealers and pimps into crappier areas evict criminal neighbors are being used to evict crime victims instead:

Last year in Norristown, Pa., Lakisha Briggs’ boyfriend physically assaulted her, and the police arrested him. But in a cruel turn of events, a police officer then told Ms. Briggs, “You are on three strikes. We’re gonna have your landlord evict you.”

Yes, that’s right. The police threatened Ms. Briggs with eviction because she had received their assistance for domestic violence. Under Norristown’s “disorderly behavior ordinance,” the city penalizes landlords and tenants when the police respond to three instances of “disorderly behavior” within a four-month period. The ordinance specifically includes “domestic disturbances” as disorderly behavior that triggers enforcement of the law.

After her first “strike,” Ms. Briggs was terrified of calling the police. She did not want to do anything to risk losing her home. So even when her now ex-boyfriend attacked her with a brick, she did not call. And later, when he stabbed her in the neck, she was still too afraid to reach out. But both times, someone else did call the police. Based on these “strikes,” the city pressured her landlord to evict. After a housing court refused to order an eviction, the city said it planned to condemn the property and forcibly remove Ms. Briggs from her home.

Sure, it’s “domestic assault.” It’s still assault, just as if some random guy beat her up  — except worse! If the cops told her, “Listen, he has to go and we will make sure he does,” that might be understandable. But no, just get out and try not to bleed on anything.

Unfortunately, neighbors that are afraid to call the cops are no better to have around than neighbors that violate the law. If you agree with the ACLU that “Effective law enforcement depends on strong relationships between police and members of the community,” you might consider sending them a couple bucks.

In closing: overdose; problem solving; on real estate, education, and commuting; parking; 15 out of 16 of us lost net worth between 2009 and 2001 (that’s after the real estate bubble popped, for those of you paying attention); one soda a day keeps insulin astray (ok, I strained to make that work); and an internet necessity.

John Dies at the Shorties

Baby Dinosaurs: More accurately, embryos in various states of development.

Follow-up on FPS Russia: Yeah, not a lot of meat on this story. Since when does the ATF get involved in “murder” investigations?

Random items on Real Estate, biased towards Vegas: Foreclosures are returning to where they were before the bust, with Nevada leading. However, prices are 30% higher than last year and distressed sales are down by a similar percentage. Interesting.

When you have a minute: Check out BustedKnuckles‘ new site.

Backtracking: CNN/Money might have thought Chained CPI was a great idea to save the budget a few days ago, but now they realize what way the wind is blowing.

I can’t believe we are back to “Jobs Americans Won’t Do”: They want to solve this “problem” with a new class of serf permit visa. Seems like these hypocrites are all about “let market forces do the magic” when it’s raising prices, but against the same when it might mean paying an American a decent wage! Go ahead, watch a bit of Dirty Jobs and tell me there’s such a thing as “jobs Americans won’t do” with a straight face! It isn’t that Americans won’t do them, it’s that they want more money (and perhaps safety equipment) than an easily exploited semi-legal immigrant worker.

Meanwhile, there are 3 unemployed Americans for every job opening: Yeah. Go ahead and push that serf permit visa program.

At some point, the Baby Boomers decided that they were never going to get Social Security; then they went about insuring just that: 1983 was the important year.

Le Petit Prince: Prince Hisahito goes to Kindergarten. You may remember him from this adorable picture.

Do you think these two things might be related?

Fact one: Home prices are up nationwide. By how much depends on which index you like to use.

Fact two: The number of available existing homes listed is down. Not down a little bit, but down about 17% in 146 metro areas (I think that qualifies as “nationwide”) and down over 25% in a couple dozen places.

Looks like the law of supply and demand is still in play. Keep this in mind if you think this is a great time to buy.

In Closing: Harvard points out the obvious; about a quarter of Americans have more credit card debt than money in the bank — not total debt, just credit card debt; the truth about low capital gains taxes; signs of autism can be found at birth (that’s long before anybody can get vaccinated, for those keeping score); strategy; and surely I am not the only person who thinks the timing here is odd. Do you really believe that the Pope mulled his decision to resign for health reasons for quite a while before suddenly making an announcement, then realizing too late that it’s the middle of Lent and somebody has to do his job?

5150 Shorties Way

Let’s clean up some tabs here…. It’s supposed to be cold in Vegas tonight. First person to say that disproves global warning gets smacked upside the head.

It’s called “math”:  Someone notices that rent can be more than a mortgage these days. Funny thing, your landlord is entitled to a profit over paying his own mortgage!

Go ahead, opt out. They dare you: The TSA. And be sure you have an ID with your age on it if you look young.

Drink Up: Red wine seemingly increases testosterone, and reduces the amount peed away.

Musique Concrete: How Dr. Who changed music.

That leaves 1-3 hours for eating, pooping, demanding attention, and running around like a fuzzy maniac: Cats spend the rest of the time sleeping and grooming.

Defused: The latest school shooting rampage was not stopped by “a good guy with a gun.” It was stopped by a teacher talking him into laying down the weapon. Hmm.

Free Gift!: You can now play CDs you bought from Amazon from the cloud in many cases. Even if you bought them 15 years ago. Surprise!

Dave Johnson: He tends to be a bit long winded, but he’s correct.

Too Big To Fail must be Too Big To Exist: Robert Reich.

Didn’t anybody else think the headline didn’t make sense?: It turns out there was a lot more to the story of the woman fired for being too attractive.

And now back to their usual silliness: The American Academy of Pediatrics thinks it would be wonderful to have a doctor in every school. Well sure it would, particularly since I’m sure they would want that doctor to be one of their members! I’m not sure where they think these doctors are going to come from, since there is a shortage which will only get worse as Baby Boomers retire. And I’m certainly not sure where they think school districts will come up with the money. After all, average (median?) pay for a pediatrician is $156,000, and that’s one of the low salary specialties. That kind of money could pay for at least 3 teachers. Which do you think will give the district the most bang for the buck in this age of budget cuts?

Last but not least: The best time to buy almost anything.

My Boss Had Some Things to Say about Fear

He gives us a video update every week at our office meeting. I thought this one was more general interest, not really about real estate this week.

One thing though: why was he smiling about the idea of a knife to one’s throat?

In closing: movie; Zoinks, a ghost ship!; REAL done; don’t let them make it about sluts; moderate levels of chocolate and exercise work well together; the simple version of why mandatory health insurance isn’t the answer; I’ve been wondering the same thing; going in my blogroll; and exercise myths.

An Update: Ok, he wasn’t a good man. He probably would have robbed the place if nobody were home to stop him. Still, I don’t know of any court that sentences someone to death for sneaking into a back yard.

Stephen King’s Bag of Shorties

Red Meat: Well sure, if you’re willing to call a double cheeseburger “unprocessed red meat,” maybe red meat is bad for you. I also liked the fact that the same questionnaires that “prove” the connection also say that 1/5 of women make do on 1200 calories daily — that would be a bare minimum for somebody trying to lose weight, not something sustainable. Think just maybe some people weren’t quite reporting the whole truth?

It turns out that 100% of rapes are committed by rapists: Don’t rape.

Bruce Wayne: Has a hard time at the psychologist’s office.

Senator Lugar: Well, is he a resident eligible to run for Senate, or is he a non-resident who can’t vote?

His name is disgusting: Mr. Santorum thinks Puerto Rico should learn some darn English already so they can become a state! Ok, he actually said they have to make English and only English the official language, and they need to have a “common language” with us whiteys normal Americans. What makes him think they want to be a state? Pretty blatant example of a conservative expressing the idea that “those brown people would be so much better off if they did things my way!” Now he can’t decide if he wants to stand by the comments or not. mmWaffles.

So you want to be a blogger?: Here.

Deregulation: Doesn’t work (HT).

There’s no point arguing with crazy: Ornery Bastard colorfully and succinctly says what many think about the GOP.

Viva Las Vegas: House sales up. That’s right, I said up. And people are noticing.

Glad I’m not in Arizona: Proposed bill would allow employers to ask women if they use The Pill and fire them if they don’t like the answer. Never mind medical privacy. No word on whether they’ll ask men if they take erectile dysfunction meds. Guess they aren’t expecting a lot of women voters. Maybe the next proposed bill is to disavow the 18th Amendment.

If only just Arizona were the problem: Thankfully we have some uterus-having Legislators helping bring balance and/or silliness to some of the anti-woman bills.

Double-you tee eff: An officer but not a gentleman.

Hail Britannica: Someday kids will look at you funny when you talk about an encyclopedia being a big set of reference books that many middle class families owned.

What??: Hotel pools must close or install wheelchair lifts.

You know there must be candy and rainbows for bankers in the foreclosure fraud settlement: JP Morgan Chase announces a hike in the dividend. The investors go wild.

Crash the system: Refuse a plea bargain. Insist on your Constitutional right to a jury trial.

Nixon in Love: Turns out he was a bit of a romantic. Who knew.

I see it around here: More people using public transportation. And as a result, more people walking, at least locally. I think it’s a good thing.

Eastern Germany: Check out the before and after pictures by clicking the pic at top.

Something Completely Different

A few years back, I was showing a property to a nice lady. As I usually do, I pointed out things nearby: “It’s within walking distance of that playground.” She laughed for a moment and said it had been a long time since she’d taken her boys to the playground, and then I remembered that her 3 boys were all grown men in the United States Marine Corps.

This immediately made me imagine 3 Marines — full battle uniforms, helmets, assault rifles, the whole nine yards — playing on the swings and slides. I could not help but smile at the mental image.

I was in that same neighborhood the other day and remembered and smiled.

In Closing: a few tidbits on the economy and Social Security and the debt ceiling; sugar; JP tells it as it is; Gee, GE; “We are one big industry of professionals, it’s time to behave like it”; a time for every purpose under heaven. And I hope you have something to smile about tonight.

Now I’m Allowed to Tell You

You are probably aware that some time back, Scott Whitney invited me to start cross-posting my weekly Vegas real estate summary — Friday Figures — to the Living in Las Vegas Blog and Podcast. About a month or so ago he wanted to talk to me about his super-secret new project.

Well, the project has officially been announced, and this weekend the Vegas Video Network will be starting to broadcast live and VOD programming. I will have a show on Friday afternoons called Getting REAL (Estate) in Vegas. In addition to talking about local real estate issues, I will have guests and talk about real estate in general. My first guest will be Bruce Cannon of WIN Home Inspection. If you have a question for him, a real estate question for me, or are interested in becoming a sponsor of my show, send me a comment or email.