Friday, December 08, 2006

For your consideration

This talk by Dmitry Orlov, "Closing the 'Collapse Gap': the USSR was better prepared for peak oil than the US", has been getting considerable play about the Internet in the survivalist/prepper communities. I've given it a once-over, and it does raise some interesting points.

One conclusion he arrives at, based on the fact that most people in the US do not own their home--the bank owns it and they're making payments-- is that in a major economic collapse, a lot of people are going to find themselves thrown out onto the streets when they can't make the payments.

I have to wonder about that. Right now, if you stopped making the payments on your home loan, you would indeed lose your house. But what if it wasn't just a relative few people, spread around the country--let's say 1/3 of all American homeowners suddenly started defaulting on their loans. Could (and would) the banks and other loaners of money begin a massive orgy of repossessions?

You see, banks are not in the real estate business, and in general have no interest in being so. Banks are in the banking business. When a bank repossess a house, the bank usually isn't the one to actually do the work--it's farmed out to a company who specializes in it. The defaulted loan is sold at a loss, and fairly quickly the whole thing becomes someone else's problem. That someone, who is now in possession of property they've bought at a hefty discount, then sells it, usually for less than market value, to someone else.

I have a bit of first-hand experience in this area, because that's how we bought The Freehold V2. It was a repro. We didn't buy it from from a bank, we bought it from a holding company, who bought it from another holding company who bought it from the bank.

These holding companies are in business to make money, not to help out banks. My thought is that if a huge number of people should default on their home loans, you can bet the real estate market is probably not going to be good--houses will simply not be selling. These companies will stop buying these repro'd houses, and the banks will be stuck with them--and in the real estate business, like it or not.

At that point, I think they would be far more likely to work with borrowers to keep them in the houses. This would protect the house from the sort of damage that normally occurs with vacant properties (protecting the bank's investment), and would serve to keep any squatters out. (Think about it, in this scenario, there will be a refugee population moving about.)

The banks would probably offer some sort of sweetheart deal to the borrower, deferring interest, principal or perhaps the entire payment, hoping that things would get better and that they would eventually get their money.

Of course, I could be way wrong on this.

I still think the best best, if you believe there will be an economic collapse, is to get all your debts paid off soon. Store supplies of all sorts to see you through the coming dark days.

But it is an option to consider.

Virtual Firefly

Browncoats rejoice! Firefly is coming to the Internet as a massively multiplayer online game. Shiny!

Unfortunately, we're going to have to wait until 2008 to be bad guys.

(Not sure what Firefly is all about? Go here.)

From the "Clueless on the Hill Department"

New York Democrat Charles E. Schumer and Arizona Republican John McCain, in a press release, said they planned to introduce a bill at the beginning of the 110th Congress in January that would require registered sex offenders to submit their active e-mail addresses to law enforcement.

This is clueless on so many levels that I'm rendered rantless. But let's try...

There are how many places you can get a freebie email account? Yahoo, Google and Hotmail spring to mind, but a quick web search will reveal literally dozens of sites offering free email addresses. It generally takes, oh, 5 minutes to get one.

They already have problems just keeping up with the pervs physical addresses, and now we want to try and track email addys? It'd be just as effective to tell them that they can't use the Internet--and they'd have just as much chance of enforcing it.

A staffer must have to follow these dolts around and remind them to breathe.

This is yet another piece of "See how we're protecting you from {insert latest perceived evil here}! Keep us in office and nursing off the public tit!" feel good lunacy from the national mental asylum known as Washington, DC.

That loud humming sound is the Founders all doing 10,000 RPM in their graves.

HP settles with California reports that HP "will pay $14.5 million to settle civil charges related to the company's now infamous spy scandal". This is the same State of California where the legislature killed a bill to make the tactics used by HP (known as pretexting) at the behest of the MPAA.

Hypocritical government bastards. Can you say "revenue enhancement opportunity"? I thought you could.

Cool tech toy

If you live in an area where public Wi-Fi hotspots are available, check out the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. Browser, VOIP, IM, music and video in one relatively portable device. It's based on Linux, so it's hackable, and apparently a community has already started up to do just that.

Very interesting, and just in time for Christmas gift giving for your favorite tech geek.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Time passes

(Recommended by The Mountain Man)

People tend to mark the passage of time by remembering events of the past--"It was the last year we had a decent snow" or "It was the year so-and-so broke her arm", using them as points from which to measure the passage of time.

It's been 65 years since Pearl Harbor was attacked at 7:55 AM, Sunday, December 7, 1941. That's the point that most of the survivors seem to measure the passage of their lives from.

Here's hoping that this won't be the last anniversary they are able to mark.

Monday, December 04, 2006

For your consideration...

This essay by Orson Scott Card is mentioned in The Smallest Minority linked below. I've just read it and I think you should do the same.

Unintended Consequences

The Smallest Minority has this excellent piece on the continuing militarization of our police. Especially interesting is the Cato Institute map of "Botched Paramilitary Police Raids". Be warned, it makes for some frustrating reading.

The need for a post like this is brought to you courtesy of the War On Drugs, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the United States Government. All of their rights reserved. Yours, however, are forfeit.

Got a cellphone? You may have a bug as well.

(Via Ars Technica)

I've seen the idea that your cell phone could be eavesdropping on you in novels and around the Internet, but I've been a bit skeptical. We now have confirmation that this is a real capability.

Nextel, Samsung and Motorola Razrs are all vulnerable to this.

New rule--if you have a cell phone and you want to have a truly private conversation, be sure to pull the battery first.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


(Via Chaos Manor)

You know, if they could live up to it, these people wouldn't be the worst neighbors you could have. Their manifesto (stop bitching about the word and read it) is not your normal "progressive" lunacy. I don't completely agree with it, but there's a lot in it that is common ground with folks like me.

Making a better nail

(Via Chaos Manor)

If you want a better nail, this guy has it. I know one thing--for $15, if I was building a house, these would be in it, or I'd have a different contractor. Pity there's no easy way to retrofit it into existing construction.

(Link to product web site.)