February 28, 2010

Why Walk The Line?

The Long Walk, Windsor, c.1858 by Roger Fenton
Cover image of Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Excerpt from Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit, published by the Penguin Group, 2000:

"The multiplication of technologies in the name of efficiency is actually eradicating free time by making it possible to maximize the time and place for production and minimize the unstructured travel time in between. New timesaving technologies make most workers more productive, not more free, in a world that seems to be accelerating around them. Too, the rhetoric of efficiency around these technologies suggests that what cannot be quantified cannot be valued - that that vast array of pleasures which fall into the category of doing nothing in particular, of woolgathering, cloud-gazing, wandering, window-shopping, are nothing but voids to be filled by something more definite, more productive, or faster paced. Even on this headland route going nowhere useful, this route that could only be walked for pleasure, people had trodden shortcuts between the switchbacks as though efficiency was a habit they couldn't shake. The indeterminacy of a ramble, on which much may be discovered, is being replaced by the determinate shortest distance to be traversed with all possible speed, as well as by the electronic transmissions that make real travel less necessary. As a member of the self-employed whose time saved by technology can be lavished on daydreams and meanders, I know these things have their uses, and use them - a truck, a computer, a modem - myself, but I fear their false urgency, their call to speed, their insistence that travel is less important than arrival. I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour. If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought, or thoughtfulness."

Sign seen on 57th Street between
Park and Lexington Avenues in NYC

From an article titled Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs by Peter S. Goodman in the February 20, 2010 edition of The New York Times:

"Some labor experts say the basic functioning of the American economy has changed in ways that make jobs scarce - particularly for older, less-educated people like Ms. Eisen, who has only a high school diploma.

Large companies are increasingly owned by institutional investors who crave swift profits, a feat often achieved by cutting payroll. The declining influence of unions has made it easier for employers to shift work to part-time and temporary employees. Factory work and even white-collar jobs have moved in recent years to low-cost countries in Asia and Latin America. Automation has helped manufacturing cut 5.6 million jobs since 2000 - the sort of jobs that once provided lower-skilled workers with middle-class paychecks.

"American business is about maximizing shareholder value," said Allen Sinai, chief global economist at the research firm Decision Economics. "You basically don't want workers. You hire less, and you try to find capital equipment to replace them."

YouTube video posted by manoffire6580

February 26, 2010

180° South

YouTube video posted by patagoniavideo
Trailer for 180° South, a new movie from Woodshed Films

February 21, 2010

This Old House

YouTube video showing the Martini family moving 
into their new home from the 1946 film 
It's a Wonderful Life posted by scooternsc

Bread - that this house may never know hunger.
Salt - that life may always have flavor.
Wine - that joy and prosperity may reign forever.

Well as everyone knows by now, many naive families and buyers along with disreputable businesses and lenders in the U.S. and the world over have been treating the concept of a home, loans and real estate in recent years as "investments", cash cows, and ultimately ... as funny money. Ethics aside, everyone was going to throw down some new paint ... flip something, anything ... get fabulously rich ... and just pass the buck on to the next chump! And if it doesn't work, well then we'll all just point fingers ... play the blame game ... and who knows, maybe even find God and politics in the process.

. . . . . . . . 

From a 2006 ABC Nightline interview titled Prophet of Housing Prices; Robert Shiller:

"The idea that homes are a great investment is just wrong. Stocks have historically been a phenomenally better investment. They've gone up historically for the last couple centuries at 7% real a year. Do you know what homes have done? It's just about zilch. They, they do not go up. This is one of the biggest misconceptions. It's just wrong. And people - I don't know how the story got started that homes are such a great investment. It's just not true." - Robert Shiller

. . . . . . . . 

From an April 18, 2007 SmartMoney article titled Renting Makes More Financial Sense Than Homeownership by Jack Hough:

"Robert Shiller, a Yale economist and author of "Irrational Exuberance," which predicted the stock price collapse in 2000, has recently turned his eye to house prices. Between 1890 and 2004 he finds that real house returns would've been zero if not for two brief periods: one immediately following World War II and another since about 2000. (More on them in a moment.) Even if we include these periods houses returned just 0.4% a year, he says."

YouTube video of Century 21's notorious 2006 commercial 
The Debate / Suzanne Researched This posted by jvolstad

From a February 13, 2010 New York Times article titled A Rookie Star's Mom Is With Him All the Way by William C. Rhoden:

"For Knox, her son's presence in Dallas is a testament to faith, to challenging the accepted norm, to not relinquishing the core duty of being a parent.

Flying commercial, middle seat, just happy to be on the plane.

Milwaukee took Jennings with the 10th overall pick in the draft. The signing bonus, the relatively lucrative first-year contract, has not drastically changed Knox. They rent a moderately sized house in California.

"It's just me and Terrence, why do we need a big house?" she said. "Save the money."

. . . . . . . . 

- Follow this link to a January 7, 2010 New York Times article titled Walk Away From Your Mortgage! by Roger Lowenstein

- Follow this link to a January 26, 2010 Yahoo.com article titled When Owning Your Home Doesn't Pay by Troy Adkins

- Follow this link to a February 2, 2010 New York Times article titled No Help in Sight, More Homeowners Walk Away by David Streitfeld

Excerpts from Personal Finance For Dummies by Eric Tyson, MBA, published by Wiley Publishing, Hoboken, NJ:

"From a financial standpoint, you really shouldn't buy a place unless you can anticipate being there for at least three years (preferably five or more). Buying and selling a property entails a lot of expenses, including the cost of getting a mortgage (points, application, and appraisal fees), inspection expenses, moving costs, real estate agents' commissions, and title insurance. To cover these transaction costs plus the additional costs of ownership, a property needs to appreciate about 15 percent.

If you need or want to move in a couple years, counting on 15 percent appreciation is risky. If you're fortunate and you happen to buy before a sharp upturn in housing prices, you may get it. If you're unlucky, you'll probably lose money on the deal."

. . . . . . . . 

"One general rule says that you can borrow up to three times (or two and one-half times) your annual income when buying a home."

February 12, 2010

Things Are Symbols Of Themselves

View out my kitchen window, August 18, 1984
Photograph by poet and artist Allen Ginsberg

"I sat for breakfast tea mornings a decade looking out my kitchen window, one day recognized as my own world the familiar backyard, a giant wet brick-walled undersea Atlantis garden, waving ailanthus (stinkweed) "Trees of Heaven," with chimney pots along Avenue A topped by Stuyvesant Town apartment floors two blocks distant on 14th Street. I focus'd on the raindrops along the clothesline - "Things are symbols of Themselves," said Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. New York City, East Twelfth Street, August 18, 1984 A.D." - Allen Ginsberg

February 8, 2010

We'll Always Have Paris

YouTube video posted by joegreentea

While we're stoking the fire of Google's Parisian Love commercial, here are scenes set in Paris from Richard Linklater's 2004 film Before Sunset (sequel to 1995's Before Sunrise), starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Ms. Delpy is at her emotional best when asked to sing the revealing Waltz for a Night.

YouTube video posted by cwme0720

You've Gotta Have Heart

YouTube video of Snickers' Super Bowl XLIV ad
posted by spoofcommercials

It's one thing to see veteran actors Betty White and Abe Vigoda slammed and tackled into the ground in the name of chocolate and comedy ....

YouTube video of Google's Super Bowl XLIV ad
posted by SearchStories

... but we're joining the bandwagon and declaring that the best commercial / advertisement from last night's NFL Super Bowl (between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts) bar none was Google's touching Parisian Love.

February 2, 2010

Be Kind

Film still from the movie Lost Horizon, 1937

A conversation from Frank Capra's 1937 film Lost Horizon, with Ronald Colman in the role of Robert Conway and Sam Jaffe as the wise High Lama.

High Lama: We need men like you here, to be sure that our community will continue to thrive. In return for which, Shangri-La has much to give you. You are still, by the world's standards, a youngish man. Yet in the normal course of existence, you can expect twenty or thirty years of gradually diminishing activity. Here, however, in Shangri-La, by our standards your life has just begun, and may go on and on.

Conway: But to be candid, Father, a prolonged future doesn't excite me. It would have to have a point. I've sometimes doubted whether life itself has any. And if that is so, then long life must be even more pointless. No, I'd need a much more definite reason for going on and on.

High Lama: We have reason. It is the entire meaning and purpose of Shangri-La. It came to me in a vision, long, long, ago. I saw all the nations strengthening, not in wisdom, but in the vulgar passions and the will to destroy. I saw their machine power multiply until a single weaponed man might match a whole army. I foresaw a time when man, exulting in the technique of murder, would rage so hotly over the world that every book, every treasure, would be doomed to destruction. This vision was so vivid and so moving that I determined to gather together all the things of beauty and culture that I could and preserve them here against the doom toward which the world is rushing.

Look at the world today! Is there anything more pitiful? What madness there is, what blindness, what unintelligent leadership! A scurrying mass of bewildered humanity crashing headlong against each other, propelled by an orgy of greed and brutality. The time must come, my friend, when this orgy will spend itself, when brutality and the lust for power must perish by its own sword. Against that time is why I avoided death and am here, and why you were brought here. For when that day comes, the world must begin to look for a new life. And it is our hope that they may find it here. For here we shall be with their books and their music and a way of life based on one simple rule: Be Kind. .....