Friday, April 25, 2008

And the Fun Begins

It looks like the Episcopal Church and it's creation, the new Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, are now suing the Anglican Bishop of San Joaquin, John-David Schofield. (link is to a PDF)

Apparently we have not had enough litigation already. We need more.

Led Zeppelin needs to re-write their biggest hit to honour our Presiding Bishop:

"And she's suing her way....into heaven"

And oh my Lord, they are proud of themselves for doing it.

Friday Afternoon Cool

The Nearest Place to Paradise

Is the Czech Republic. Once again the Czechs show they have a grasp on what is truly important.

Priorities- Woulda Coulda Shoulda

If instead of giving to the Episcopal Church, I had saved all that money, I could afford to pay cash for a fully tricked out one of these. And have a good bit left over for the exorbitant fuel, insurance and tax bills that would ensue. What on earth was I thinking?

NY Times Openly Disses Episcopal Bishop

Their headline reads: "Gay Bishop Plans His Civil Union Rite". Why can't they just honour his wishes and leave this simple country bishop be? The press in this country just keep getting worse and worse..........

Addendum: Hills of the North says it funnier.

Yes Mustangs Are Nifty, But Can They Do This?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Attack of the meme-

Tam and Robb have self tagged themselves with this meme. Since I wanna be one of the cool kidz as well, I'm tagging myself with it. [addendum: I'm never, ever live blogging one of these again. This blog is Not Safe For Work as a result].

Here is how it works:

1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. No cheating!
2. Find page 123.
3. Find the first five sentences.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

1. Caliphate by Tom Kratman.
2. done
3. done (oh dear)
4. yikes!

"Some girls were not so lucky. Each of the new girls was then assigned to an experienced, older houri for training."

I am so not posting the next sentence here. It will be in the comments, as I do not know how to do a 'below the fold' post. The book is not porn. Not by any stretch. But the next sentence states just how truly awful the situation the POV character (Petra, a twelve year old German girl) is in. It was hard for me to read it this past Monday.

I am never liveblogging again. Not ever. Unless I get really really drunk. So I might be liveblogging come Election Day.

Robert Peel on Police

I was browsing Lawdog's blog and saw the following. I think it is well worth reposting:

Peel’s Nine Principles of Policing

1) The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.

2) The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.

3) Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.

4) The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.

5) Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

6) Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.

7) Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

8) Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

9) The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

Here's a bit more about Sir Robert Peel. A very wise man, that bloke.

Observation on The Current Foreclosure Situation

Drudge, Kendall Harmon and others are linking to a lot of articles about how dire the current real estate situation is. The mainstream media is discussing how awful it is that people are losing their homes due to poor decisions made by them (adjustable rate mortgages, loans with balloon payments and such). I think it would be bad to lose my home. As with most people, I can empathize with someone who is about to lose their home.

However (you just knew that was coming), I have been dealing with a lot of houses that have been foreclosed upon recently. They represent a large portion of our current business. The vast (over 80%) of the houses that I've seen owned by lenders are not the prior owners residence. They were investment properties. Real estate, especially investment real estate, follows a distinct cycle in each market.

I do not know if we are in a recession. I suspect we may be. I do know that the current real estate situation is more of a correction to a prior bubble than an actual melt down. Real estate became over heated due to a false perception of security and access to easy credit by bad credit risks. All investments are subject to risk. Any tangible asset can vary in its value. This includes gold, by the way. The Japanese learned the hard way last real estate cycle that real estate prices can deflate rapidly (anyone want to buy a golf course?). Now the 'flip this house' crowd is learning it as well.

It is very much possible to make money on real estate in the manner shown on television. I know investors who have made fortunes buying foreclosure properties. I know investors who have also made fortunes flipping houses. In most cases, they are the same individuals. But these are folks who are willing and able to buy a house, work very hard rehabilitating it and then wait for it to sell. They are smart, hard working investors who stay on top of all the trends in the local real estate market. They also sink a great deal of their own money into these projects and so have considerable equity in them as well as the ability to wait.

What triggered my paying attention to this was that Sally and I saw a house that I had run the title on on a real estate flipping program. I recognized the address, but none of the names and facts matched what I remembered. I dug out my notes and discovered that what the program reported was completely bogus. The house was not owned by the person they identified as the owner. It was not purchased for the amount the program said. It did not sell at the time they said and for the amount they said. It therefore did not make the profit reported.

I know of exactly one person who bought a house without any experience in flipping that made money doing it. He also did not finance the purchase. He bought it outright. I am sure there are other people who have made money as amateurs in flips. I have never met them.

I'm formulating Matthew's law: "If you see a show on television about a way to make money in real estate, then the time for making money using that method has already passed." If the method were still valid, then the promoters would be using it to continue making the big bucks and not making television programs or infomercials.

One final note, the people who look sad and blue on television are not representative of the people who are in distress. Most of the people who have been burnt by the drying up of easy credit were legitimate investors. I do feel sorry for them. But some were the miscreants who made Atlanta number one in the nation in real estate fraud for several years running. For that lot, I have no sympathy.

Signs of Impending Doom

I do not know if I agree with all of it, but Fabian Tassano has created a chart with all the signs of impending doom. Check it out!

{H/T Samizdata}

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why I Am Not Overwhelmed

I have five big issues in federal politics. First is fiscal prudence. Whatever money is spent must be well spent. None of the candidates have a stellar record in that regard.

My second issue is the preservation and extension of our freedoms under the US Constitution. Obama and Clinton are challenged with the Second Amendment. Obama and McCain are challenged with the First. I do not trust any of them with the Fifth or the Fourteenth. In fact the Seventh and the Thirteenth may turn out to be problematic for this crew.

Third is free trade. I'm for it. None of the candidates are enthusiastic about it. I'd love for us to extend trade with Chile and Colombia at a minimum.

Fourth is nuclear power. I'm also for that. While waste disposal is not perfect, it has a very good track record and it offers the prospect of extremely low emissions. Given that wind and solar power will never amount to a significant part of the energy we use, coal is dirty, and gas and oil may be getting scarcer and more expensive, nuclear power offers us the best shot at getting off of our Saudi oil diet. None of the candidates are really keen on a radical nuclear power policy either.

Fifth and last is space. I am a space nut, a sci-fi geek, a propellor head. I am so much in favour of space exploration, colonization and exploitation that it isn't funny. If ever I had one issue, this would be it. And now it appears that on this issue as well I am out of touch with the three candidates.

I Wanna New Toy!

Sub Prime Debacle and Renting

This made me laugh. Out loud. Really. Scared the heck out of my cat Grace who was sleeping on the computer at the time. Which made me laugh even more. Which scared the heck out of our cat Boo who was sleeping on the couch in the next room.

Anyhow, here's a viral video from the renter's union.

Theological Joy

There is a very good (and civilized discussion) of Church authority, morality and church history over at An Examined Life. Scott Carson and Tobias Haller have been going at it hammer and tongs. Well worth reading.

Of course, the whole debate has put me in mind of redoing a philosophical discussion in professional wrestling terms.

"Wittgenstein is arguing with the moderator over an illegal use of the word 'red'. Oh no, Plato has pulled out a logical fallacy and hits Aquinas over the head with it. The moderator is completely distracted. Aquinas looks dazed as both Plato and Hume taunt him..."

Deflection and Pie in the Sky

The House of Bishops and Deputies Mailing list is having its regular discussion of the Episcopal Church's declining membership. Someone posted a set of statistics showing that the decline is real and asked the simple question : "What does this say about us?".

The respondents have been many and vocal. And the vast majority of them engage in deflection in their replies. "Everyone else is experiencing declines as well", "It can't be the consecration of Bishop Robinson, that was in 2003", "Folks are just tired of all the fighting" and my personal favourite: "Maybe they're not leaving per se, they're just dying."(All of the quotes are paraphrases. I'm not allowed to quote directly).

No one wants to step up and say "Here's what we need to do to reverse this." No one.

I know what to do, though. And it's not because I'm a super-genius either. It's because every time it's been tried, it works. Here's what has to be done.

First, at the next General Convention, have a revival. I know we are Episcopalians and we have never gone in for that sort of thing, but it's time we did. Bring in wall to wall good, effective, orthodox preachers. Have a cracking good choir or two or three. Preach fire and brimstone and call for repentance. Set the leadership ablaze with the true Spirit of God.

Second, revive the Inquisition. Just kidding. Step two: Do what the Southern Baptists did and what the Catholics are doing. Purge the seminaries. Bring them back to the Gospel. Next purge 815, from top to bottom. We really do not need that many people in the bureaucracy.

Step three, consolidate the dioceses. I figure we could get by with maybe thirty, probably less than that, but thirty seems about right geographically. Most dioceses would have at least one suffragan.

Fourth, and no one will like this idea. Update both the BCP and the Hymnal. Bring back the bad old hymns in their original words. Include newer hymns with the nicer words. Eschew stealth editing forever more. More importantly, with the BCP, take Cranmer's original and update the verbiage. That's it. Steal the Baltimore Catechism from the Romans and conform it theologically to Hooker and the 39 Articles. Require Confirmation of every person wishing to join the Episcopal Church. Require that confirmands memorize the new catechism. No one has to agree with it, but they have to understand and know it. Disallow all alternative services for at least ten years.

Fifth, dismiss all bishops, priests and deacons who are not either 1) celibate or 2) married to a person of the opposite sex. Dismiss all bishops, priests and deacons who are divorced. Dismiss all bishops, priests and deacons who are in California, Massachusetts, Chicago, New York or Newark. Just because.

Sixth, and perhaps most important of all. Give away the endowment. All of it. Come up with a plan to get rid of it in five years and stick to it. Require our churches and dioceses to similarly dispose of their endowments. It's time to live within our income as a church.

Seventh, trim the parish rolls. Count as members only those that attend at least monthly and donate to the church.

If the church followed my little scheme, our numbers would drop like a frozen turkey tossed from a helicopter. For about a year or two. And then we would grow. We would probably grow somewhat dramatically.

It's not going to happen though. The revisionists would never go along with the theological reforms, the pew potatoes would hate the organizational reforms, and everyone would hate giving all that lovely cash away.

I can back up each point with some fairly irrefutable reasons why they are necessary. I will do so upon demand. But the main point is that the Episcopal Church has no reason to exist at the present. That lack is killing it. We need to reform and refocus on what is truly important. We need less deflection and a lot more honesty. We need less narcissism and more commitment to God. We need a lot less dialog and a lot more obedience, not to men, not to canons, constitutions, bloggers, priests or bishops, but to God.

We need it. But it ain't gonna happen.

For Katie

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's Official! Not Particularly Villainous

Your results:
You are Dr. Doom

Dr. Doom
Mr. Freeze
Lex Luthor
The Joker
Dark Phoenix
Green Goblin
Poison Ivy
Blessed with smarts and power but burdened by vanity.

Click here to take the "Which Super Villain are you?" quiz...

Monday, April 21, 2008