Monday, February 23, 2009

Pics from Dallas 09

Ben and I had a great time cousins. Thanks for all the hospitality that everyone showed! We will be back and you are welcome here anytime!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Economic Collapse

20/20 Had a very good show on last night called “House of Cards” that explained in detail the economic meltdown. I was pretty confused how all this happened until I watched it. I think I will try and relay, to the best of my ability, what happened. Keep in mind that all I am trying to do is put this in terms a lay person can understand. I barely know what I am talking about here.

1) Bad loans were issued by Mortgage companies and people forged their info to get these loans. Loans were issued based on “stated income”. This means that all a person had to do was sign a document saying they made $100,000 a year and in reality they could be just out of prison, and a loan was given.

2) Most of these mortgages had an adjustable rate. They would be at sub prime for the first 2, 3 or 5 years and then go up high as hell. Hence the term “sub prime meltdown”. Mortgage brokers would rationalize this by saying that people would just refinance before the rate hike into another sub prime loan.

3) Since it was now easy as hell for anyone to get a loan, the demand for houses went through the roof. Causing housing prices to skyrocket. This lead to people having a whole bunch of equity built up in their homes. So….They withdrew money from the golden fountain. The problem is that they refinanced using these sub prime loans.

4) Guess what people did with all this money they took out of their home? They spent it. The economy flourished. They bought anything and everything they could get their hands on. Pools, cars, pets, and sandwiches. George Bush got on TV and talked about how good our economy was and how much home ownership was up. Too bad it was all bullshit. But nobody else knew either apprantly.

5) WallStreet bought the hell out of these loans. People were making their payments on time because their interest rates were low which made the loans look like a good investment for everyone. The loans were bundled and sold. They were put in as part of funds and given a AAA rating by the rating companies. This meant that they were the lowest risk funds you could invest in. And everyone bought them.

6) CDO’s were created. This stands for Collateralized Debt Obligation. I suggest you read what these are on your own. Basically Slices of the clumps of horrible loans were bundled together and sold. Again with a AAA rating. Most people had no idea what they were investing in. And EVERYONE invested in these.

7) Shit hits the fan. People who put down fake income start falling behind on their payments. Interest rates go up on the adjustable rate mortgages. Houses start being foreclosed on. This creates a lot of houses on the market. People realize the bad loans are the reason for this and stop issuing them. Demand for houses tanks and supply explodes. People are not able to refinance their shitty loans and they get foreclosed on. This creates even more supply and less demand.

8) The CDO’s price plummet. Which causes all CDO’s to plummet (weather they are part of the housing market or not). Everyone looses faith in the market. If this AAA CDO is failing then why would anything else not fail? Our economy collapses. Where will it end?

9) Who is at fault? The house buyers, for sure, for lying. The Mortgage companies for knowing they were lying and issuing the loan anyway. Wall Street for having to know these loans were bad and selling them anyway. The rating companies for not investigating what they were rating. And anyone who refinanced into a shitty loan. This is how I understand it anyway.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Internet Music

My journey with Internet music has had many phases. I began searching for legal ways to use the Internet for music about 5 years ago. Downloading MP3’s just kind of became a pain in the ass. I have found the ultimate in Internet Music, but first….My Journey.

I-tunes :

I-tunes was an acceptable way of listening to music from my computer. The obvious benefits were that I could listen to any music I already owned for free. I had to take the time of course to put those files into I-tunes. The drawbacks were the fact that I had to purchase any new music that I wanted to hear. I rarely did this. All in all, I-tunes was ok for configuring the ol’ I-pod but pretty bad for new music.

Pandora / Janga :

I discovered Pandora a few years ago and thought it was great. Pandora allows you to type in an artist and create a radio station of similar artists. The benefit is that you are exposed to new music that you may end up enjoying. The downfall is that you could only skip through so many songs per hour and were sometimes stuck listening to stuff you did not like. I thought that this would be the future of free internet music.


I discovered Rhapsody and fell in love. It only cost $12.00 per month and I had access to almost every song I could think of. They seriously would have any obscure song or band you could ever think of. I searched for a recording I made of me singing in the shower and they even had that. I thought that this would be the end all of music for me. It is worth $12.00 per month because I would use Rhapsody for at least an hour per day. That is until yesterday.


My friend comes in and asks if I have heard of Groove Shark. He claims that it is just like Rhapsody, but free. I say that he is full of nonsensical madness. I then check out and he is right. I can listen to any song I want, for free. I have tried to dig around the site a little to see how they are able to do this, but I have not read a good answer. Maybe one of you will know. Anyway, Rhapsody subscription is gone and I do not see how they will not be out of business very soon.
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