Posted in San Francisco, Travel on January 7th, 2008 by Дмитрий

My roommate in San Francisco told me she will need to move out on 31 March. She is falling on tough times with her business and will not be able to work in San Francisco anymore, so she’s moving to Napa full time.

I’m very sad. First, there’s the fact that the past year has been much better than the previous year: I’ve had a home here, where I could keep all my things and not have to live out of a suitcase. Then there’s the fact that it has been an ideal roommate situation: my roommate is gone as often a I am, and we got along really well and never annoyed one another.

It’s gonna be a tough thing to replace in only 3 months…

Religion and Me

Posted in About Me, Get In My Head on January 8th, 2008 by Дмитрий

I’m pretty non-religious, but I usually stop short of calling myself atheist these days. I’ve started to view secular intellectuals as no more tolerant or worldly than bigoted evangelists. Not least this guy - proselytizing atheists are just as trying as door-to-door bible-thumpers. I think religion (well, some religions, practiced in certain ways, in certain societies) is usually better than the void often left in its place. This is of course premised on my observations that the absence of religion does not always imply a universal acceptance of logic and reason and secular humanism. It often simply means a new (and often less benevolent) form of tyranny.

I think religion is an important counterweight to government control of civil society - otherwise Marxist/Maoist governments would not have been attempting to decimate religion as an institution for so long. Lack of any loyalties outside the state is the lifeblood of despotism. Witness the good things religions bring among, say, most Asians who are weary of their authoritarian governments.

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Is There No Escaping Them?

Posted in Economics on January 9th, 2008 by Дмитрий

Bank of America to buy Countrywide for $4 billion.

Every time I think I’ve moved all my finances away from BofA they swoop in like a pathalogical vampire. Aren’t they approaching their legal market share maximum? I guess this quote says it all:

“Federal law also bars banks from acquisitions that would increase its market share above 10 percent of U.S. deposits, a limit that Bank of America is nearing… Bank of America could easily lower the total amount of money held in deposits by lowering interest rates and losing deposits to competitors.”

Great customer-service strategy. Oh, and a great long-term growth strategy, too. Yeah. How can they, with such already-large home mortgage leverage, afford to take on more mortgage-backed assets whilst encouraging attrition to reduce non-mortgage assets? I don’t get it. Maybe I should celebrate such an illogical business plan?

The whole financial sector is making me want to puke right now - their pundits are on TV every day whining for interest rate cuts. Low interest and high inflation is fine for those who are addicted to debt. Why is the Fed supporting this addiction? Wouldn’t a better idea be to raise interest rates to help control prices and encourage saving? It would sure do a better job than those stupid “feed the pig” PSAs.

My savings is drying up not from my spending habits, but from inflation and high fuel and food prices (something most inflation numbers ignore so that they can look better, of course), whilst the government and the financial services sector chums it up and bails out the debtors and the house-flippers (and at the same time, conveniently, their lenders). Sigh.

New Home Away From Home

Posted in San Francisco, Travel on January 16th, 2008 by Дмитрий

I am 99% sure I have found a new place to live in SF. A nice big room in a 70s-era flat owned by a very nice old artfag. Will also be sharing with another gentleman I’ve yet to meet. It’s in the Sunset right off the N-Judah, only a couple blocks from both the park and the beach.

Much better commute, and no real price increase (it’s a condo so I’ll have to pay for water and trash now, but not a big deal). Nice set of nearby coffeehouses and pocket-groceries (Charlie’s!). The only draw-back I can see so far is that my roommate(s) will not be fellow commute-workers, so not as much privacy/alone-time. The major problem was that to clinch the deal I had to agree to move in 1 Feb, but my current roommie needed 30-days notice, so I’ll be paying double for a couple weeks.

In any case, now I can go home to NC tomorrow with much less stress over the SF housing situation.

MacBook Airhead

Posted in Mac on January 17th, 2008 by Дмитрий

No, actually, I’m not too enticed by an ultra-thin laptop. I’m always scared I’m gonna break my current laptop as it is. I hope Apple doesn’t switch all their portables to this profile over the next few years… It’s icky.

… In any case, I had my last iBook for over 6 years before I replaced it with my new MacBook just last month, so unless my new one’s a total piece of crap or some new chip revolution happens, I doubt I’ll need one any time soon.