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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Angel Says

Happy Easter!

And just cuz...

Here's my nephew flying a kite.

The Shakedown State

Told ya so.

They'll get that pound of flesh somehow...
Gary Wagner, a professor of economics at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, was one author of a study of moving-vehicle and parking tickets in North Carolina, covering a 14-year period. He found a strong correlation between a dip in government revenue and a rise in ticket-writing by the police.

“But there’s a lag time,” Mr. Wagner said. “Typically, it’s about a year after the revenues drop that the police start writing more tickets.”

If you date the start of the downturn to last September, the ticket-writing is just getting under way.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Mortgage Scams Keep Rolling

I got a startling refinance offer the other that I really must consider.

The offer:
Your est. loan balance $132,426
Cash back to you $35,000
Your est. Loan Amount $167,426
Your est. New Payment $874

A few things.

My estimated loan balance is NOT $132,426.00, or even close to that. Subtract about 20 grand and you'd be close.

Cash back to me? Um, at 4.75% (the promised interest rate in the offer), that $35,000 is going to cost me, oh, probably three times that. So thanks...but no thanks.

As to the new estimate loan amount: 167K?! Dude, that's more than my house is worth!

So while I appreciate the offer to lower my interest rate (by a whole point!), lower my monthly payment (giving me more play to pay extra principal), as well as the extra 35 grand...

Taking this offer would erase all of my equity and put me instantly underwater on the biggest investment in my life.

Forget it, Affordable Interest Mortgage. I find your mortgage neither affordable, nor in my interest.

(PS. The company letterhead came with a proud endorsement from local consumer advocate, Tom Martino, the "Troubleshooter." Which tells you all you need to know about what those endorsements really mean... From his wikipedia page: "Martino is known for his bold style. If he believes a businessperson is acting unethically, he does not hesitate to call that person a liar or a cheat on air." Apparently there's nothing unethical about marketing mortgage scams via direct mail.)

An Unfortunate Double Entendre

So when they're done with all this tea bagging, what's next? Some donkey punching?

I personally wouldn't tea bag the White House, even if Hillary was president.

Nor am I going to waste a stamp sending a tea bag to the White House, because really...I don't hate the White House mail room staff that much.

(This message paid for by ACORN, George Soros, and the liberal media.)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Finally!

The NBA lets you embed highlights!

The Nuggets have won eight straight with only a couple more to go before the playoffs. I love this game.

I'm going to the last regular season home game next Monday with my brother and fam. We got the cheap seats, but that place is gonna be bumping!

Last Post - Continued

More from the insurance article:
Tommy Manzullo, an agent with A Ace Insurance Agency in Baton Rouge, La., said that when he calls clients to remind them to pay their premiums, he usually gets the same response: They can’t afford even the minimum liability coverage required under state law. Food and rent are more immediate concerns.
Damn right, they are "more immediate concerns." Food literally sustains your life and shelter has direct ramifications on your health and safety...and yet the state doesn't require you to purchase either.

Car insurance though... you may never actually use or need (beyond fulfilling the statutory requirements to have it), and you MUST buy it. And if you don't, there will be consequences.

Steep ones. Speaking of...
But no matter how tight finances get, dropping your auto insurance is one of the worst steps you can take, law enforcement officials and insurance industry representatives say.
O RLY? Why's that?
“Uninsured motorists face legal fees, fines (and)penalties, including a suspended license,” said Elaine Zeinner, a spokeswoman for AAA.

That’s not to mention tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital and repair bills if you’re in an accident. And in states without “no-fault” insurance laws, you could also be on the hook for the bills of other drivers or passengers, who could sue and, if successful, tap your bank accounts and garnishee your wages.
Ah yes, the legal fees, fines and penalties.

The natural consequences? Nil...unless there's a catastrophe. And in that case, well, natural consequences can be a bitch. Natural consequences can bite you even if you have insurance, and they probably will.

But don't let that stop them from telling you this:
It can also be a bad idea to cut back on the coverage you have, agents and regulators said.

“Going underinsured is a financial nightmare,” said Bob Davis, an agent with State Farm Insurance in Evansville, Ind., who said he had been busy in recent months changing customers’ policies.
Define underinsured, Bob.

Because if it means what I think it means, then I think there might be something wrong with this paradigm. Now I understand we must all profit and all that, but I see no reason why an insurance company should "underinsure" anyone.

Hey, I get that states have required people to buy your product, but that does not give you license to provide an inferior product.

This is where I think the state's regulatory concern goes off the tracks and becomes an inefficient, heavy-handed headache. Rather than going all legalistic against the motorist, requiring them to carry at least some semblance of a policy, they should require insurance companies to properly insure everyone. None of this "I'm ripping you off because I can" bullshit.

But you can bet that getting tough on insurers will never happen. Oh yeah, they've got their lobbyists, sure, but there's also people relying on them, too. These people need pills, or a new front end, or new drywall after a flood came ripping through the house. Shit rolls downhill, and you get tough on insurers, all those people will feel the brunt. The underinsured will continue their meek existence and insurance companies will still try to figure out ways to deny the properly insured their full due.

And those without insurance...they'll keep paying their fines, fees, and penalties.

(For the record...I do have car insurance, like that did me any favors in the fines, fee or penalties department. I'm probably also what you'd call "underinsured" since I only have the bare minimum policy allowed. So if I sound bitter about this subject, that's why.)

Insurance Scams...and by that I mean insurance itself is a scam!

Read this article so I can tell you how stupid it is.

Let's start with this:
Insurance regulators and safety activists are alarmed at what they describe as a stunning rise in the number of drivers who are cutting back or even dropping their auto insurance to save money during the recession.

“It’s been a shock,” said Chris Pringle, owner of All American Insurance Agency in Little Rock, Ark., who said up to 20 percent of his clients had dropped their policies or missed payments in recent months. “I thought we were somewhat in a recession-proof business, because (auto insurance is) required for everyone to have.
A few thoughts on this:

A) It should be no surprise that insurance --specifically car insurance-- can be considered by many to be non-essential in tough times. If we were to be truly honest with ourselves about the state of the insurance business, we might ask question like this: "So let me get this straight. You want me to pay you hundreds of dollars, receive nothing unless there's a catastrophe, and then when the catastrophe hits --when I really need your help-- then you're gonna nickel and dime me with deductibles, higher premiums, or outright denials? Shit, man, sounds like a deal! Where do I sign up?"

B) I'm sure Chris Pringle is a good guy trying to provide a valid service for people, but man, he sure sounds entitled, right? He thought the insurance business was "recession-proof," not because of the virtues of its product - so indispensible and full of value! - but because it's "required for everyone to have."

More on this later...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Few More Things

Dude, slow down. There's like...too much to blog about.

First Iowa, now Vermont. It's curious that these things are happening within a few days of each other, but George W. Bush once said "Freedom rains" and when it rains, it pours.

I have to admit, however, that although I am sympathetic to the gay marriage movement, my current fixation is on getting state recognition of my right to drive.

Scanning the internets...

I saw this headline, saying, "You're going to die the way you live," and instead of thinking about all the unhealthy habits I have, I thought...that's what Metallica should have said instead of that cheesy "My lifestyle determines my deathstyle" shit.

And speaking of deathstyles, a dude in Eugene, Oregon shot himself in a theater the other day. He was half way through Watchmen and bam... I asked around at work to see if anyone heard anything, but no one did. They didn't close early??

Click here if you want to see Summer Glau doing the splits. If I were to sit down with her, say in an interview, I'd ask her...why ballet? What is it about ballet that moves and inspires her so much? Not to get on her good side, but because I'm curious. I've seen bits and pieces of ballet and I just don't get it. Strangely, I'm more curious about that than I am about how she'd look coming out of the shower, all dripping wet and naked... Usually with celebrities, it's the other way around.

Speaking of celebrities, Nicolas Cage sold his castle because it was a dump of the "difficult economic situation." His movies are flopping, but his castles are flipping.

No links, but just a comment. If I'm in your presence, and you're constantly going to your phone or your texting gizmo or whatever they call it these days, I'm going to ask you if you're twittering Shaq. Because that makes no sense, but it's kind of funny. And you fucking with that thing when you're with actual live people in the room hanging out with you makes no sense either, and you know what, that ain't funny.

Not related, but still just a comment. It's strange to think about what makes a woman lose interest. With me, all it takes is another dude to walk into the room. With some guys though...the list is long and fraught with peril.

How To Know Something Works

My Mom told me she printed out my April Fool's Day post and had a co-worker read it. The co-worker believed every word and when my Mom spilled it, she got really mad about it. I'm not sure I get the emotions behind that, but I think that's hilarious.

Mission accomplished!

I think I fooled...just about everybody. I wish I had been there to see every reaction. Especially if it made them mad!

That doesn't mean I'm a sick bastard; it means that the writing worked. At least on some level.

When I was in junior high, I wrote a short story about me and my Uncle Jim saving his pregnant wife (which he didn't have at the time) from a serial killer. I read it aloud in class one day and afterward, this girl asked me, with a straight face and apparently all seriousness, if the events of the story really happened.

The premise alone says "No, you idiot," but there was a burning building, a last minute rescue, and then we killed the serial killer.

That hasn't happened to anyone.

But she bought it, even if she was just a junior high kid, and you know, maybe it was the writing. Or maybe she was just a dumb junior high kid.

Smokey and the Bandit

On Friday, the state of Colorado told me I couldn't drive anymore. Not for a year, at least. My papers weren't in order, you see.

I know! So criminal!

Anyway, when they told me that, I just shrugged and said, "That's fine. My chauffeur is fully licensed, and if he's not available, I'll just take the bus." But then I realized that I don't have a chauffeur and that the bus service in this town sucks.

So then I thought, well, I guess I'll just have to drive. But the interlock system in my truck won't start the ignition unless I scan a valid drivers license, so that won't work.

Then I remembered that I don't have an interlock system and that since 2006, I've only had to produce my drivers license exactly once...and that was during my ill-fated traffic stop on New Years Eve, you know, the one that got this little ball rolling.

So then I started figuring that I could get away with driving for a year with no license. I mean...I got away with it from 2006 on, so what's another year?

Just don't drive when "the heat is on" and I'll be fine.

But then I remembered that we're in a global recession, that city's are strapped for cash, and that cops are dicks, and I started thinking, you know...they don't even need a reason to pull you over, or they'll make one up anyway, so you're screwed, dude.

You're going to be dodging cops for a year? And still claim to be an intelligent person?

Like I said, screwed.

But then I remembered that if I do get pulled over, during a sobriety check or just because some cop is having a bad day and wants to take it out on the peeps, then I have an out. I've used it before.

I'll just pretend to be an illegal immigrant. "No habla espanol." Tell him, "Mi nombre es Jorge Ramon." Jorge Ramon, from Jalisco.

I know what you're thinking...you're sure to be arrested then. Wrong.

That's way too much paperwork. I mean, maybe I do get a true believer, but maybe not. Maybe I get the cop who bit off more than he could chew --he thought he was writing a ticket, but no, he's dealing with feds now and its an all day thing and you can forget about meeting your quota-- and decides "catch and release" is the best way to handle the situation.

Who knows? So, let this be a lesson, kiddies.

Keep your paperwork in order. You see, driving is a privilege. You may think you can buy a truck and just go drive it, but no. I have found that there is more to it than that.

After all, I have been all over this town, kissing rings and paying tribute, and the Driver Control* section still just tells me: "Computer says no." Apparently I can only wait, "serve" out my sentence, and come back groveling next year, coin purse** in hand.





* Driver Control? What happened to the famous government talent for euphemisms? Yes, I get it. You control me. Thank you. I feel so much better now.

** I don't really have a coin purse.