Daily Archives: January 1, 2010

Because no one needs it

Swine flu vaccine now available to anyone in Connecticut who wants it.

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I’m no economist and yet even I could see this one

NYT: Mortgage modification program adding to housing woes.

Critics increasingly argue that the program, Making Home Affordable, has raised false hopes among people who simply cannot afford their homes.

As a result, desperate homeowners have sent payments to banks in often-futile efforts to keep their homes, which some see as wasting dollars they could have saved in preparation for moving to cheaper rental residences. Some borrowers have seen their credit tarnished while falsely assuming that loan modifications involved no negative reports to credit agencies.

Some experts argue the program has impeded economic recovery by delaying a wrenching yet cleansing process through which borrowers give up unaffordable homes and banks fully reckon with their disastrous bets on real estate, enabling money to flow more freely through the financial system.

“The choice we appear to be making is trying to modify our way out of this, which has the effect of lengthening the crisis,” said Kevin Katari, managing member of Watershed Asset Management, a San Francisco-based hedge fund. “We have simply slowed the foreclosure pipeline, with people staying in houses they are ultimately not going to be able to afford anyway.”

Mr. Katari contends that banks have been using temporary loan modifications under the Obama plan as justification to avoid an honest accounting of the mortgage losses still on their books. Only after banks are forced to acknowledge losses and the real estate market absorbs a now pent-up surge of foreclosed properties will housing prices drop to levels at which enough Americans can afford to buy, he argues.

“Then the carpenters can go back to work,” Mr. Katari said. “The roofers can go back to work, and we start building housing again. If this drips out over the next few years, that whole sector of the economy isn’t going to recover.”

The Treasury Department publicly maintains that its program is on track. “The program is meeting its intended goal of providing immediate relief to homeowners across the country,” a department spokeswoman, Meg Reilly, wrote in an e-mail message.

But behind the scenes, Treasury officials appear to have concluded that growing numbers of delinquent borrowers simply lack enough income to afford their homes and must be eased out.

Pull the plug and let’s move on.

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Don’t tell the Tuna

Shut up, you!

Cold weather kills scores in India

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Berkeley High to drop science classes because too many white students are enrolled?

That’s the proposal and in Berkeley, it’s sure to pass.

Berkeley High’s School Governance Council, a body of teachers, parents, and students, proposes to eliminate before- and after-school science labs at Berkeley High School (BHS) and divert resources to narrowing the intractable racial academic achievement gap. According to the East Bay Express, an alternate parent representative on the council said “information presented at council meetings suggests that the science labs were largely classes for white students,” although black students take science classes. One teacher said she has 12 black male students in her Advanced Placement classes, and black and Hispanic students account for a third of her four environmental science classes.

BHS purportedly has the widest racial academic achievement gap in California, which the council deemed “unconscionable.” Depriving students of science lab instruction because the labs benefit mostly white students apparently isn’t unconscionable.

“The labs help the struggling students most,” physics teacher Matt McHugh told the Berkeley Daily Planet, “because they’re the ones who need the most help.”

TechDirt blogger Mike Masnick saw Anderson’s tweet. “It seems like there must be more to this story than what’s being reported,” Masnick wrote. “The concept of cutting science labs because more white students take them just seems too preposterous to make sense.”

Unfortunately, there isn’t more to the story, and yes, cutting programs because they benefit white students is preposterous and doesn’t make sense. But that’s what misguided social engineers do.

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Kurt Westergaard attacked by muslim

Allahu akbar, baby

BBC reports, without, of course, depicting the offensive cartoon or disclosing the religion of the attacker, that a muslim broke into the Danish cartoonist’s home and was shot by the police. We’ll do both tasks for them.

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Meat grinding

Way back when, I had an after-school job at a pet food store here in town (under different ownership now, so I won’t say its name) where my divers duties included grinding up horse meat for dog food. My pal Chip Mathewson and I would retire to the back room on Mason Street, maybe or maybe not light up a doobie, turn up WNEW-FM and go to work to the pulse of Janis Joplin singing “Me and Bobby McGee” .

The horse meat came in 55 gallon drums and, by the time it reached Mason Street, it was putrid. No matter to us – we’d hoist huge slabs out of the barrel, slice it into long strips with our butcher knifes, fling those strips at each other, pick them up off the floor, and toss the meat, now coated in sawdust, into the hopper with big chunks of suet and a liberal dosing of penicillin. The result was lovely, pink horse hamburger, with no odor, that we proceeded to pack into plastic bags for resale to dog owners. The dogs never died from the stuff – or we never heard back from them, if they did – but I’ve been suspicious of commercial ground beef ever since: you can make anything look good, once you grind it.

Yesterday the New York Times ran an article on commercial ground beef that seems to have stirred readers up and awakened them to what I learned back in 1970 – the stuff can be filthy and you’ll never know it. So maybe you’d like to grind your own, and know what’s in there? I would, and so I recently got a meat grinder to run Bambi, imported dead from the Catskills, and Horton, my poor old dog who wasn’t going to make it through the winter anyway, plus whatever road kill I come across this winter, through it. The grinder I selected was this Waring Pro, but if you already have one of those Kitchen Aide mixers, you can buy an attachment that serves the same purpose, albeit at a slower pace.

There’s lots of great information on grinding meat on the web, for free, but two good sites are sausagemaker.com and Letsmakesausage.com. Between them, you can get all the recipes you might want for ground meat, sausage, and the equipment and spices to make them, all to your health’s benefit. Nothing in either one on dog sausage but hell, maybe ol’ Horton will make it another year anyway.

UPDATE: Don’t miss Cobra’s comment about what they used to grind up for the “children’s special” at the Showboat. Hilarious, as long as it wasn’t your kid eating the swill.

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As New York goes bankrupt, here’s a reason why

Prison guard, 25, arrested for smuggling pot and vodka into Rikers Island. I couldn’t care less about the crime itself: my ex-con friends tell met that there’s no shortage of contraband in prison, but check this out:

She was immediately fired from the $57,757-a-year job.

While your kid is racking up a hundred thousand in debt earning a college degree, this high school drop-out just joins the union and lands a job paying $57,000 plus benefits. No wonder government workers are the only people optimistic about the economy.

UPDATE: an anonymous reader found this website that shows the turnkey in question earning $27,000, not $57,000 per year. Overtime, or sloppy reporting by the Post? I’d bet on the latter.

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Coming your way – Ariz. Mayo clinic stops treating Medicare patients

Government pays too little. This clinic was praised by Obama as an example of how great medical care could be provided at low cost. Guess he forgot to mention what might happen when the government cuts those subsidies.

The Mayo organization had 3,700 staff physicians and scientists and treated 526,000 patients in 2008. It lost $840 million last year on Medicare, the government’s health program for the disabled and those 65 and older, Mayo spokeswoman Lynn Closway said.

Mayo’s hospital and four clinics in Arizona, including the Glendale facility, lost $120 million on Medicare patients last year, Yardley said. The program’s payments cover about 50 percent of the cost of treating elderly primary-care patients at the Glendale clinic, he said.

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Unusual sightings in annual Greenwich bird watch

Just resting

Black vultures, dodos and passenger pigeons among the species sighted. Global warming blamed. Meanwhile, Eskimos beg to differ as to polar bears disappearance. But who ya gonna believe: Gore-sponsored scientists or a bunch of dummies who eat those cuddly things and thus depend on their presence for a living? You can bet they don’t have 110 foot houseboats ready to run on bio-fuel, if it’s ever available, and, how many of them have a Nobel prize?

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Great moments in online newspapers

There’s an interesting interview of a 94-year-old resident on Greenwich Time’s subsidiary  Greenwich Citizen today. That’s great, but somewhere between the dead-tree version and this brand new Internet thingie, they dropped the man’s identity. I bet he’d be pissed if he knew but, according to the interview, he knows no more about the Internet than Greenwich Citizen does.

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