Around 1980, I was browsing through a copy of "Across the Board",
a publication of The Conference Board (an organization of corporate CEOs). I was struck by the good sense of
an article which argued that Americans' investment of large amounts of money in their homes
was economically dysfunctional for the nation, because private homes do not produce anything. The article
argued that putting money into purchasing a home and home improvements, is no more
productive than hoarding gold.
The article said the U.S. tax code (which makes mortgage interest tax-deductible...) encourages people putting their money into
home ownership, rather than renting and putting their money to work in
productive inventments (e.g., stocks and bonds). [Picture at right is from a 14Feb04 Washington Post
article: "Home is Where the Heart Is": "Even though houses suck up time and money, often quite a bit of both,
most American homeowners have an ardent love affair going with their properties....
'Americans have been earning more on their homes than on their IRAs,'...
Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies... said.
'That's a big part of why people love their homes so much at the moment. If that changes,
they're going to love them less.'"]
|Beyond the innocent hope that the home one had to buy anyway
to have a place to live will appreciate in value,
lies the more ethically and economically treacherous region of building houses "on spec" (speculation...) in hopes pressures of the
housing market will drive someone to buy.
Open house here
|"I was thinking maybe I wanted a bigger backyard,
more privacy and more closet space." (--Queens New York homeowner, quoted in Nadine Brozan,
"Moving Up Without Moving On", NYT on the Web, 15Feb04; article describes new trend that many homeowners are
expanding and otherwise upgrading their present home, instead of moving to a new "better" house)
| Americans want:
|* More closet space.
* An extra room.
* A bigger yard.
|* Longer commute to work.|
* Bigger monthly mortgage payment.
|Home improvement: I used to watch the neighbors every evening
spending their time in a little room on the side of their house. Recently, it looks
like they completely remodelled the room -- and, ever since, they seem to spend hardly any time in it any more.
(Addendum: Several months later, they did seem to return to using the room.)|
Royal Cruisers! Are your ship's
crew enjoying their cruise as much as you? Are your ship's crew being treated as "royally" as they are
treating you? If yes, then no one needs to wish you to enjoy your cruise, for all of you already are!
P.S.: How royally are you treated in your job
when you are at work and not on
||The Annals of Depth Psychology.
Isn't it très 'simpatico', that
"a far-sighted architect of modern propaganda techniques...
was the... nephew of Sigmund Freud"? One of this person's many accomplishments was
"In the [1920s, he] fathered the link between corporate sales campaigns and popular social causes,
when while working for the American Tobacco Company
he persuaded women's rights marchers in New York City to hold up Lucky Strike cigarettes as symbolic 'Torches of Freedom.'"
"Of course, you know, we [in public relations...] don't deal in images... We deal in reality." Learn more about
Edward Bernays (1891-1995)!
[See also Dilbert cartoon,
||I change the TV channel [ca. 18:15EST 28Feb04],
and see Lawrence Welk (1903-1992; bio)
on WLIW (Long Island Public Television) -- A woman who was a singer
on the show is telling her reminiscences of the show, and of her life
as her participation in the show shaped it (she says she could
put together a dinner for 240 people in 3 hours, and that she was doing in the
late 1960's things Martha Stewart is famous for today...). The |GeritolChampagne Music Makers play -- of all
things -- "the love song from the Italian movie, La Strada". I would never have imagined
the polka-people of the Lawrence Welk show even being aware of the
existence of La Strada (an example of what, at the time, was called an: "art film"...).
But, as they play the tune on a dozen muted trumpets in what looks like a Big Band ballroom (or
at least a Liberace stage-set...) --
I imagine Federico Fellini himself delighting in this performance....
Fellini's Serutanicon? (A
laxative called: "Serutan" -- "That's "Natures spelled backwards" -- was a sponsor of the Lawrence
Welk Show, along with Geritol "high potency tonic".)
||There are quotes I'm sure I've read, but which,
when I try to find them again, I can't (I admit I have not yet reread a whole book to find
a missing quote):|
(1) The quote from Matteo Ricci on this website's homepage. It's from
Jonathan Spence's The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci. I remember underlining the line in the book
when I read it. But I gave the book to someone, and I have never been able to find the quote
when I tried to look for it in another copy in a bookstore (and I haven't yet had the courage to ask the person I gave the
book to to look for my underline and tell me what page it's on). This puzzle dates back perhaps over 10 years as of
(2) An image in the book I am currently (05Mar04) reading: I am a Cat (Soseki Natsume). When I came across it on
p.146, I knew I had read the image earlier in the book. But I can't find the earlier reference: "...meetings of hermits in a
This problem obviously points to one use for books online: One can have the computer search the text for all occurrences of
a given word or phrase, and thus find these missing quotes (if, of course, they really were there when one
seems to remember having read them!).
(06Mar04) I am driving in the town of Chappaqua's "downtown", looking for a place to park. On a side street, there is a place with
space for 2 cars. Somebody has parked so that there is just barely enough space to park in front of them
if one's car's front sticks out beyond the "1 Hour Parking" sign with an arrow pointing backwards
(the other end of the arrow shows traces of a forward pointer having been painted over or scratched off).
I manage to squeeze into this space, "bumping" the car's front bumper with my rear bumper
in the process. At just this point, the car's driver, a 30's-ish man with his 11-ish son in tow, comes out of the
Dry Cleaner's and exclaims something like: "You hit it." I look and observe -- to my immense relief -- that no harm was done. But I
realize this person is a threat to me (I am smaller than he is,
and he surely doesn't want to be seen as a wimp by his son!). I start
moving away, commenting "Thank God for bumpers". The man evidently finds this too uppity of me, so I
quickly seque to apologizing as hypocritically as I can.
The man repeats: "But you hit it." I get away, but keep looking behind me to see whether he is going to
damage my car. I figure he won't hit my car with his car, because he apparently
hypercathects his car. Once he is gone, I hasten to finish my errand before I might get a parking ticket for the part of my car
that protrudes beyond the sign....|
|Now: If I wasn't afraid of the harm this person could do to me,
I would have told him something like: "Why did you park in such a way as to use both spaces when
you don't have a limousine? Does hogging parking spaces help you feel you are less worthless than
you secretly suspect you are? You seemed baffled that my car's bumper tapped your
car's bumper, when you could easily have parked in such a way that I would have
had no reason to get near your bumper. Is the value of bumpers to help protect both of our cars from the
consequences of your petty sadism, beyond your understanding? Or is
it that you can't understand why anyone could fail to adulate you for doing
pointlessly selfish things like hogging parking spaces? Let me
make you feel better, and tell you I think you are a great man. Your son must really look up to you
for causing pointless trouble to people you don't even know!"|
|More automotive things I've done recently, even stupider|
|Read about: Another such person, but who got what they deserved|
|Automobile that looks like Japanese
animation character Totoro:
Infiniti FX35 and FX45. In reality, the car, especially seen from a certain angle from the front,
evokes Totoro much more strongly than these pictures may suggest, especially if you are not
familiar with Totoro.
|IHS + 1 = JIT. If you add 1 to each of the
letters in "IHS" (In hoc signo vinces), what do you get? "JIT" (Just in time). What
"IHS" was to the Emperor Constantine on the battlefield, "JIT" is to
today's businesspersons in the global market. Semper fi!|
|[Note: The arithmetical operation involved is adding a scalar to a vector by adding the scalar to
each scalar component of the vector. Example: (1 3 5) + 1 = (2 4 6).
If this interests you, you may want to learn about a computer programming
language that has powerful array processing functionality: APL.]|
||"On the theme of obeying orders,
an old friend of mine, long deceased, was parachuted down at the Battle of Arnhem in 194? and,
while the few thousand British troops still had a slender purchase there,
it was his job to guard a house in which his commanding officer and others
were pouring over their maps wondering what the hell to do next.
As my friend stood guard, a German soldier appeared in front of him wanting to surrender.
My friend took his rifle from him, stacked it at the side of the doorway,
told the German to wait, and then went down into the basement of the house where his CO
was and reported the fact. 'We can't take prisoners. Tell him to F*** off', was the reply.
So my friend went back upstairs and told the German accordingly.
The German soldier hesitated and looked at his rifle, so my friend said:
'And take your f***ing rifle, too.' So off he went, rifle and all. Perhaps it was just as well.
The British troops had to vacate their position soon afterwards (the whole affair was a
mad scheme by General Montgomery which cost many lives), and the German soldier was
probably reunited with his regiment when it re-occupied the place and thus he avoided being
disciplined for losing his rifle." (Personal communication, 02May04)|
The manager closes their office door and
Picks up the phone and
Screams at one of their employees for over 15 minutes.
|(Personal communication, 05May04)|
||A sacrifice for love (2004):
A woman with several children divorces her husband, and her family buys out for her his part
of their home, so that the woman and her children can
continue to live there. The woman finds a new man she wants to share her life with, but she does not like the
idea of living with her new man in the house where she had her children with her former man.
So she puts her house up for sale, even though her and her new man's combined income
offers little prospect of them being able to buy
another house even nearly as good. [This is obviously not a true story, because, in the 21st century, unlike the 19th,
persons do not unnecessarily incur major material losses in their lives for sentimental reasons
(See example: famous O'Henry story:
The Gift of the Magi).]|
||I am ignorant about music.
I know nothing about musical theory. "I know what I like"
is about all I can say. (What do I like?
Wanda Landowska playing the harpsichord is my "fav".) Q: Is it music if it sounds like music to me?
[OK, dear reader: I hear you asking: "Is it literature (or philosophy or anything else) if BMcC thinks it