Subprime Bailouts

Philip Greenspun

Governments at various levels have decided that they have to bail out people who spent more than the houses turned out to be worth and the financial companies who weren’t wise enough to notice that the U.S. is in fact not short of forests that can be cut down for more sprawl.  Where will the money come from?  You, me, and everyone else who did not participate in the bubble.

So? we missed buying real estate with a lot of leverage back in 2000 and missed the big ride up through 2004 or whenever.  Now we get to buy that same real estate at a much higher price and without any upside at all since we won’t actually own any of it.

Yeah, what he said.

Of course I can appreciate the misery of someone who’s underwater on a $400K mortgage, but my sympathy goes away awfully quick when I hear them say “We just never imagined this!”

Didn’t you notice that that whole “closing” business involved you signing, like, 100 pages of documents that were all variations on “YOU OWE LOTS OF MONEY”?

Giving and receiving multi-hundred-thousand dollar loans is adult stuff. I have friends who are not homeowners because they looked at the risks and decided not to take one of these nonsense loans. Now apparently my tax dollars are going to go to help out the imprudent people who caused my friends to be priced out of the market and, in so doing, my tax dollars will help prop up the prices and keep my friends locked out of the market. This is good for society how?

Democratic Caucus

If the November elections are anything like the Democratic caucus I just attended, it will really be something. Turnout was 4-5x the 100 or so expected and the workers ran out of Democratic party registration forms. There was lots of visible support for Obama (native son, true) and none for Hillary.

If Obama gets the nomination and can somehow bring out the disenfranchised … well, wouldn’t that be something.

Thoughts on Kindle Annotation

Based in the S3 Cloud (of course).

Every book has a unique Wiki based on ISBN.

You annotate via a Kindle-browser-friendly blogging engine.

You can view threads chronologically (normal blog view) or if they incorporate references to Kindle “positions,” they can be threaded by location in the book.

Server-side stuff is easy enough; Kindle-friendly blogging editor/display reasonable; barrier to entry is difficulty getting from Kindle reading to Kindle browser (Home -> Experimental -> Web -> Bookmark). Also, positional permalink should be easy but will be hard (“Remember your position in the Kindle book” H->E->W->B -> Note Editor, add text, enter position in field).


Also, links ought to be two-way (“Read Now” ought to open that page in Kindle), but impossible with current firmware:


February: Best Month to Visit Hawai’i Island

The seas are filled with humpbacks, both breeding and nursing. If you go in the water, you can hear them a little if you’re on the surface, but if you can swim down 5′ or so, it can be unbelievable.

Yesterday, we were at Kekaha Kai and a whale swam by about 50 yards away (did I see it underwater? No, I did not. Darn.). They were breaching and slapping tails all over.

Plus, we get surf, but it’s very user-friendly (maybe 2-3′). So tall enough to ride, but small enough to swim through very safely. Kekaha Kai is a hot place to go boogie-boarding and I was actually swimming around inside the waves, watching people take off.

Which was cool until my camera flooded. It was just a cheap submersible disposable from Longs, but still, what a rip. Good thing that whale didn’t swim by!

Practical Mathematics: You Should Wait For The Bus

I used to live several miles from Harvard Square, which was (a) a destination in and of itself and (b) the last stop on the Red Line (back in the day). I used to live about 5 minutes from the Belmont Center route, which ran occasionally, and about 15 minutes from the Waverly Square route, which ran more frequently. However, if I went to the Belmont Center route and walked another 20 minutes, I could get to an intersection served by the Arlington buses as well as the Belmont Center bus. However, doing so involved abandoning the Belmont Center route for about 5 minutes, during which, of course, the bus for which I had been waiting might very well drive by… 

Aside from trying to figure out if you got more, less, or identically wet by running or walking through the rain, the question of how best to get to Harvard Square was a central preoccupation of my teenage years. Mathematicians have concluded that I should have waited for the bus.

Reading on a Kindle : I Miss The Weight of Pages Transferring From Right to Left

I’m now reading Dan Simmons’ The Terror on my Kindle. He’s a very competent writer, and perhaps it’s his very slow, very claustrophobic build-up (which he’d d*** well better pay off) that makes it so noticeable, but I have to say that I’m very aware of a certain “running on a treadmill” sensation when reading on the Kindle.

I turn pages, click click click, and the story progresses, but the only token of my progress is a bar at the bottom (the same length for all material, no matter the word count) that occasionally deigns to darken another pip. Like the animated plane on the in-flight display, this is almost worse than no indicator at all (“We still aren’t past Nebraska?” Wait for it… wait for it … tick it moves a single pixel…).

Especially with thrillers, the book-reading experience includes the sensation of the story moving from right-hand to left. It includes the canny appraisal of the upper-right corner, when the remaining pages become individualized — “An hour more, then! I can miss the sleep!” The force of will to read every clause as the thumb holds down only the last 3 pages…