Monday, December 04, 2006

Botnet Web Mob DDoS Buttholes - You Suck!

The last couple days has seen a couple DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks on my DNS provider, I find that really, really annoying, so this post is directed at the botnet pushers that launch this kind of crap, and the message is simple:

You suck!

I like EveryDNS, I like their service and I like not having my business go down just because you have a beef with them.

I don't know you, but I hope you get caught, I hope they press charges and I hope I can join a civil suit against you. You're messing with my business, creating extra work for me and generally screwing up my day, so again - you suck!

I don't care if you consider yourself a white hat, black hat, cat in the hat or otherwise. For all I know you could wear a 10 beaver Stetson. I don't care. You suck!

You may think you're a big tough web mobster or you may type 3v3ryth1ng all fucked up like the 12 year old kids on AIM, but really, like many another parasite, you just suck!

I hope you get a lump of coal for Christmas, preferrably flung at your head with some force. You deserve a share of the headache...


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Racist Asshats Harassing Voters - Is That Okay...?

The, while reporting on election glitches in some states, had an interesting snippet highlighting the less savory side of US politics.

In Arizona, Roy Warden -- an anti-immigration activist with the Minutemen -- and a handful of supporters staked out a precinct in the city of South Tucson and questioned Latino voters as they entered the polls to determine if they spoke English.

Armed with a 9mm Glock automatic strapped to his side, Warden said he planned to photograph as many Latino voters entering polls at as many as 20 precincts in an effort to identify illegal immigrants and felons.

Warden heckled Democratic congressman Raul Grijalva as he walked into the precinct to cast his ballot. Grijalva ignored Warden, saying such harassment "hasn't been a deterrence to voters -- it's just been a nuisance."
A nuisance?!?!?!

Considering Warden is the same 10 lbs of shit in a 5 lb bag that was in the news back in May for sending an email to a human rights activist with the subject line "Warden to Isabel Garcia: I will blow your freaking head off!", the same piece of trash who descended on a Cinco de Mayo celebration in a Tucson park, armed again, calling celebrants "Mexican invaders" and spouting "We will not permit you, the ignorant, the savage, the unwashed, to overrun us, as happened in Rome. ... Land must be paid for in blood. If any invader tries to take this land from us, we will wash this land and nurture our soil with oceans of their blood!", I'd say this would constitute more than just a nuisance.

Do we have to arm ourselves now to visit the polls for fear of gun toting kooks interfering with our right to vote? One more reason for mail in ballots if you ask me.

Seriously though, is this crap okay? This isn't freedom of speach. Accosting people on their way to the polls is interfering with the electoral process. It's politics through fear and intimidation. It's fucking terrorism is what it is.

From Wikipedia:

Terrorism is a term used to describe violence or other harmful acts committed (or threatened) against civilians by groups or persons for political, nationalist, or religious goals.
Roy Warden, and the rest of these extremists are terrorists plain and simple. Why is George W's War of Terror skipping over the groups closer to home that use the threat of violence as a political tool...?

This shit isn't okay. Roy, I'd rather have 1000 illegals in this country than even 1 of you.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Election Fiasco V 2.0

First, watch the video.

As my friend, shall we call him K, said with such eloquence, "how is it... that they can use touchscreens at McDonalds for YEARS without an error.... but we get dozens on election day? something is seriously fucked about this stuff"

I'd say K nailed it.

Lou Dobbs said we were living in "...a banana republic". Good on ya, Lou. We've had a couple hundred years to work on this democracy thing. You might expect we'd be better at it by now... Not sure how we expect to teach the Iraqis when we can't pull it off ourselves, but that's a whole other potential rant. Back on topic.

Apparently four companies make these voting machines - private companies - very private. It seems they all consider their junk "proprietary". That means THEY test the machines and their viability for running National elections. No oversight. A room full of coders and engineers decide what's good enough to decide the leadership of the free world.

Well here's the thing about that. This isn't Windows '98 crashing or Google screwing advertisers AND publishers - this is the future of our frickin' government here!

Proprietary?!?! KA'POW! We just annexed your fucking tech staff. They now work for us.

Why not? If we can take land to build a freeway for the common good, we can sure as hell take some geeks to bring electoral security in-house.

I think that's the real issue. There is no security, no oversight, no paper trail, nothing. Do voters even get a receipt? We can do better than this.

Vote early and, thanks to modern technology, vote often...


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Is George W. Bush a Lying Sack of Crap?

An interesting take on Bush's behavior the morning of 9/11 and the possible implications. Can you say "conspiracy theory"...?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Counterfeit One Touch Test Strips!

Yes, I do browse the FDA website once in a while...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - October 13, 2006
Media Inquiries: Heidi Valetkevitch, 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

FDA Issues Nationwide Alert on Counterfeit One Touch Basic/Profile and One Touch Ultra Blood Glucose Test Strips

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting the public to counterfeit blood glucose test strips being sold in the United States for use with various models of LifeScan, Inc., One Touch Brand Blood Glucose Monitors used by people with diabetes to measure their blood glucose.

The counterfeit test strips potentially could give incorrect blood glucose values--either too high or too low--which might result in a patient taking either too much or too little insulin and lead to serious injury or death. No injuries have been reported to FDA to date.

The counterfeit test strips are:

One Touch Basic®/Profile® (lot #272894A, 2619932 or 2606340) test strips; and,
One Touch Ultra® (lot #2691191) test strips.
Consumers who have the counterfeit test strips should stop using them, replace them immediately and contact their physician. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-866-621-4855.

The counterfeit test strips were distributed to pharmacies and stores nationwide--but primarily in Ohio, New York, Florida, Maryland and Missouri--by Medical Plastic Devices, Inc., Quebec, Canada and Champion Sales, Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.

The counterfeit test strips can be identified by the following characteristics:

Counterfeit One Touch Basic/Profile Test Strips

Lot Numbers 272894A, 2619932 or 2606340
Multiple Languages- English, Greek and Portuguese text on the outer carton
Limited to 50-Count One Touch (Basic/Profile) Test Strip packages
Counterfeit One Touch Ultra Test Strips

Lot Number 2691191
Multiple Languages- English and French text on the outer carton
Limited to 50-Count One Touch Ultra Test Strip packages
LifeScan alerted FDA of the counterfeit test strips. The agency is investigating the matter.

LifeScan is alerting the public via a press release and is notifying pharmacists, distributors, and wholesalers through a letter. In its letter, the company is advising customers to contact their original source of supply for restitution. For more information, visit:

FDA is alerting its Counterfeit Alert Network partners, a coalition of healthcare professional, consumer and trade associations, who have agreed to further disseminate this important information in a timely and effective manner.

Any adverse reactions experienced with the use of this product, and/or quality problems should also be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Program by phone at 1-800-FDA-1088, by fax at 1-800-FDA-0178, by mail at MedWatch, HF-2, FDA, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD, 20852-9787, or through the MedWatch Web site at

Januvia Approved for Type 2 Diabetes Treatment

The news is in. Januvia, a DPP-4 inhibitor, has gained FDA approval for treatment of type 2 diabetes in the US.

This from MarketWatch (or you can read the pop-up free version below:

Merck's diabetes drug Januvia gets FDA approval

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that it approved Merck & Co.'s
(MRK) drug Januvia to treat type 2 diabetes.

Januvia is the first in a new class of diabetes medicine known as DPP-4 inhibitor. The drug works by enhancing the body's own ability to lower blood sugar, or glucose, when it is elevated.

Swiss-based Novartis AG (NVS) has a similar drug, Galvus, which is also awaiting FDA approval.

Analysts have predicted both drugs could easily reach blockbuster status of more than $1 billion in annual sales by 2010 as long as no major safety issues emerge.
About 21 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, a disease that is characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from the body's inability to use insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of the disease and most often occurs in people who are older than 45 and overweight, although there's been an increase in younger patients in recent years. Type 1 diabetes, often diagnosed in childhood, requires people to use insulin to manage their blood sugar levels. Many diabetics also have poor lipid profiles, which also puts them at risk for cardiovascular disease. Diabetes can also lead to blindness, kidney disease and amputations.

DPP-4 inhibitors work in a different manner than blood-glucose lowering drugs currently on the market, including sulfonylurea drugs, which stimulate the pancreas to release insulin, and metformin, which works on the liver to reduce blood sugar.
Two other drugs on the market, Actos by Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY) and Avandia by GlaxoSmithKline PLC (GSK), make the body more sensitive to insulin.

Because of the drugs' differing effects to lower blood sugar, many of them are combined in treatments.

The FDA approved Januvia for use in addition to diet and exercise, alone or in combination with metformin or a PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma) agonist, when either of these drugs alone, along with diet and exercise, don't provide adequate blood sugar control.

According to Dr. John Amatruda, vice president of clinical research for Merck, the drug's label will also reflect that its side-effect profile is similar to placebo, or fake pill.

Those side effects include runny nose, sore throat, upper respiratory tract infection and diarrhea. Unlike current diabetes drugs on the market, DPP-4 inhibitors don't cause weight gain, which is seen as a major benefit, as the majority of diabetes type 2 patients are already overweight or obese.

"We now have an option for physicians of a new and novel drug which has powerful glucose lowering efficacy without causing many of the side effects of current agents," Amatruda said. "And it can be used both alone and in combination."

Merck, however, will likely have to share the market of DPP-4 inhibitors with Novartis, which is set to hear from the FDA on Galvus next month.
Representatives for both Merck and Novartis declined to draw comparisons between the two drugs, saying they haven't been studied head-to-head.

"If there are other products that get approved at some point in the future, that only reinforces the fact that we believe that this class of drugs, DPP-4 inhibitors, is a major advance for the treatment of this disease," said Jay Galeota, general manager of Merck's global diabetes franchise.

Januvia is already approved in Mexico. "With the U.S., and other
countries soon to follow, we expect to have a rollout globally over the near
future," Galeota said.

Shares of Merck closed Monday at $43.76 each, up 56 cents, while Novartis stock closed at $57.54, up 45 cents.

Forbes had the following snipit in their highlights for today:

FDA Approves New Diabetes Drug

A new drug to treat type 2 diabetes was
approved Tuesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The drug
Januvia (sitagliptin phosphate) is unlike any other oral drug for people with
type 2 diabetes. It's designed to enhance the body's own ability to lower blood
sugar levels. Clinical trials found that the drug works as well as older
diabetes drugs, but causes fewer side effects such as weight gain, the
Associated Press reported.

Januvia, which is made by Merck & Co., is
expected to cost between $3 and $6 a day. Some older diabetes drugs cost 50
cents a day.

The new drug works by increasing levels of a hormone that
tells the pancreas to produce more insulin to process blood sugar and also
instructs the liver to stop making glucose. Januvia does this by blocking
production of an enzyme (DPP-4) that inactivates this hormone, the AP reported.

"For the millions of Americans with type 2 diabetes, who continue to
have inadequate blood sugar control, the approval of Januvia marks an important
advance in the fight against diabetes," said Dr. Steven Galson, director of the
FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

"We now have another new
option that treats the disease in an entirely new way that can be added to
existing treatment regimens to help patients gain more control over their blood
sugar levels," Galson said.

About 20 million Americans have type 2

In any case, it sounds like good news for type 2 sufferers.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Your Assignment...

Should you choose to accept it, is what exactly?

Oh yes, join Captain Cook and rediscover the East Coast of Australia as part of your Teacher of English as a Second Language curriculum.

Huh? What? You're not sure what the hell I'm talking about? Well that's okay. Neither am I...

I just stumbled upon this assignment at the Queensland University of Technology website earlier today and decided to assign it to anyone who stopped by my blog. Makes sense, no?

Basically, the assignment is to write an illustrated journal based on the discovery of the Eastern Coast of Australia in 1770 by Cook and the crew of the Endeavor using Internet resources. I want it on my desk first thing Monday morning (next Monday, whenever it happens to be for you).

Now the real question is; will anyone, I mean anyone actually submit said journal, not to QUT, but to little ol' me?

Do it!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hiccups? Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid...

Termination of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage.

Odeh M, Bassan H, Oliven A.

Department of Inernal Medicine, Bnai Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel.

A 60-year-old man with acute pancreatitis developed persistent hiccups after insertion of a nasogastric tube. Removal of the latter did not terminate the hiccups which had also been treated with different drugs, and several manoeuvres were attempted, but with no success. Digital rectal massage was then performed resulting in abrupt cessation of the hiccups. Recurrence of the hiccups occurred several hours later, and again, they were terminated immediately with digital rectal massage. No other recurrences were observed. This is the second reported case associating cessation of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage. We suggest that this manoeuvre should be considered in cases of intractable hiccups before proceeding with pharmacological agents.

PMID: 2299306 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Original Source

Hey Fatso, Buy My Stuff

The weight loss industry loves to hype new products. The world, particularly America, is getting heavier and there's HUGE money in selling the hope of a skinnier future.

Ephedra and Phenfen were monster sellers before they were finally banned, caffeine has been popular since the '50s and fad diets come and go like some kind of a cash cow meteor shower. It's estimated that $40 Billion dollars, yes with a big B, is spent each year on slimming down. $40 Billion!

It's no wonder everyone wants to cash in. For perspective, even 1% of that market is worth $400 million annually. That's too many damn zeros.

Normally I look at these fads, diets, supplements and so on like pure marketing schlock, but something has caught the world's attention - a plant extract from the South African Hoodia gordonii plant. I'm still skeptical, but this actually sounds interesting, and the story is worth understanding.

Back in the '60s the South African National Laboratory was doing a study on indigenous foods and included Hoodia, a succulent (sorta' like a cactus) eaten by the Bushmen of the Kalahari. Apparently lab animals started losing weight during the study and they investigated.

After a good 30 years they discovered the specific ingredient that affected appetite and applied for a patent which they then licensed to a UK company called Phytopharm. Others, of course, immediately started marketing supplements in violation of that patent, and things have started to mushroom.

What I find particularly interesting about Hoodia is that the Bushmen sued for bio-piracy and finally settled for a share of profits. Their knowledge lead to the discovery and they're now going to share in the profit. We may see Bushmen clicking around the Kalahari with gold plated Coke bottles and Yves St Lauren loin cloths in the very near future.

You caught that reference did you? Good for you. Now pat yourself on the back and move on.

The second thing I find intriguing about Hoodia is the supply and demand issue. Hoodia is a wild plant. Stripping the Kalahari bare would not produce near enough to meet the demand of even one fat state in the US, and synthesis, while possible, has not been achieved at anywhere near production levels.

The answer is Hoodia plantations, and South African coffee plantations are already being converted to meet anticipated demand. Being a new crop, they'll be facing unknown pests, disease and a host of other concerns, but that $40 Billion is a pretty big carrot. No, they can't just grow big carrots, smart guy...

The lack of supply means a lot of supplements are being sold with very little actual Hoodia in them, less than is supposed to be effective. And as far as effective is concerned, very few clinical trials have been done and the FDA has still not said one way or the other whether Hoodia is even safe - but then the Bushmen have been eating it for how many 1000s of years...? I trust them more than the FDA anyway.

So where does this leave us? I'm not sure I'm 100% confident, but Lesley Stahl burned some off her booty on the stuff and the couple studies that have been done over here sound promising, even if industry funded. Still though, the idea that the only reason Americans aren't as skinny as the Bushmen is because they eat Hoodia is a pretty ridiculous notion.

Long story short, it probably won't hurt you and may actually suppress your appetite without making you jumpy, jittery, anxious, etc. Buy some Hoodia gordonii if you like.

I have no idea if this stuff really works, so please don't come crying to me if you're still a chunk when all is said and done. My advice, get a treadmill, bump up the gradient and walk for 45 minutes a day...


Thursday, October 05, 2006

The US Government Thinks YOU Are a Moron

Yes, it's sad but true. The people who are supposed to represent you, think you're a moron, a tool, a dullard, a thicky, 6%, etc.

How do I know this to be true?

Well, there's the whole war on terror thing that they assume you will continue to swallow like a sack full of Jelly Bellies, but I won't go there today. Today we're talking the need to protect you from yourself.

See, they think YOU are so daft that given the chance you'd cock up your life beyond all hope of redemption, that you'd ruin the lives of those you care about and that you'd eventually face eternal damnation. Well, at least that you might lose five bucks playing online poker.

Yep, this post is about the recent vote to ban internet gambling in the US of government A-holes. Were you aware they recently took away your right to play?

Yep, as further evidence that they consider you (and the rest of Congress) well shy of Mensa membership, they didn't even pass this outright. They slipped a little piece of rider legislation into a bill to increase port security. We all love port security. War on terror, yada yada yada. They all voted for it and the attached ban on online gambling, because they figured the six of you that will actually vote in next November's elections would be lulled by that warm port security blanket and miss the fact another of your rights was just taken away - to protect you from yourself of course - ya daft moron.

Now I personally do not think YOU are a moron. I think you are one clever clogs savvy camper so and so, ready to do what's needed, ready to cast your vote and get these bums out of office.

It's time for our government to stop protecting us from ourselves and time we started protecting our rights from our government...


Monday, October 02, 2006

Junior Diabetes Research Foundation Walk to Cure Diabetes

Okay, it's rather unfortunate that nobody actually reads my blog, because this is a worthy cause...

The JDRF has walks going on all over the country in an effort to raise $90 million towards finding a cure for diabetes. Diabetes affects millions upon millions upon millions of people worldwide.

Today I donated to a walker who moderates a diabetes group on Myspace. I don't know him personally, but he seems pretty driven to help the cause, so I'm glad he got my donation.

Donating to the walk for the cure is pretty easy - they take credit cards right online. You can also search for walkers in your area, start your own team, etc. They make it very easy to get involved, so don't be shy. Help find a cure for diabetes and make a tax deductible donation today.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Cure for Type 2 Diabetes?

An article in the University of Florida News today sounds pretty exciting for the 16-17 million Americans with Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes.

UF study shows leptin could combat type 2 diabetes
Filed under Research, Health on Wednesday, September 20, 2006.GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida researchers have discovered the appetite-controlling hormone leptin could also combat type 2 diabetes, a disease that has become a growing problem in the United States as more Americans pack on extra pounds.

Using a novel gene therapy technique, UF researchers were able to reverse type 2 diabetes in mice. The researchers found that in diabetic mice, leptin acts in the hypothalamus to keep the body from producing too much insulin even after constant exposure to a high-fat diet, which over time can lead to or worsen type 2 diabetes, according to findings published this month in the online edition of the journal Peptides.

Although more tests are needed, scientists are hopeful these findings will lead to better treatments for patients with type 2 diabetes, said Satya Kalra, a UF professor of neuroscience and the senior author of the article.

“We found that we were successful in keeping the blood levels of insulin low at the same time keeping blood glucose levels at a normal range,” Kalra said. “In other words, we were able to correct diabetes in these animals under various challenges.”

The researchers injected a gene embedded in a harmless virus into the brains of the mice to increase leptin production in the hypothalamus, which regulates the hormone. While past studies have shown leptin acts in the brain to regulate weight and appetite, this is the first time researchers have shown that leptin can independently affect insulin secretion as well, Kalra said.

Typically, eating rich and fatty foods causes blood sugar levels to rise, which in turn causes the body to produce more insulin, a protein that helps the body use carbohydrates. Patients with type 2 diabetes often become resistant to the insulin they do make, causing too much of it to build up in the body. After gene therapy, tests showed that the blood sugar and insulin levels in the mice that received it had returned to normal, even when they were fed a high-fat diet. Mice that ate a high-fat diet but that did not receive gene therapy, however, continued to overproduce insulin and have high blood sugar levels, which Kalra said are markers for type 2 diabetes. In another arm of the study, researchers also discovered that normal, nondiabetic rats that received leptin gene therapy produced lower levels of insulin as well.

“This was totally unexpected,” Kalra said. “Until now there was no evidence that leptin action in the hypothalamus had control on insulin secretion. (With leptin gene therapy) we can reimpose that control.”

More than 18 million people in the United States have diabetes and about 90 percent of them have type 2 diabetes, also called adult-onset diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most cases of type 2 diabetes result from leading a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight and overeating.

If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can also cause cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and blindness.

Aside from keeping blood sugar and insulin levels down, the rodents that received gene therapy also lived longer than obese rodents that did not, Kalra said.

“Currently we do not know if that is due to the correction of the diabetes or many of the diseases associated with diabetes,” Kalra said. “It is clinically known that diabetic patients have early onset mortality. If the diabetes is managed, there is an improvement in lifespan.”

Dr. Martin G. Myers, an associate professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Michigan Medical School who also studies leptin, said other studies in recent years have shown similar findings, albeit without the use of gene therapy.

“Most of what is in this paper is not surprising,” Myers said.

While he noted that it was good to see the leptin was still working in the rodents for the full 15 weeks that UF researchers were conducting the study, Myers said it is unlikely that doctors will employ leptin gene therapy in humans.

Gene therapy would be an ideal treatment because it just takes one shot, Kalra said, adding it is also likely drugs could be developed to simulate leptin’s action in a pill form, which is easier to give to patients.

“What we have shown in animals is very effective,” Kalra said. “It can be done.”

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Found Wallet

As yet another follow up to my credit cards post and the subsequent lost credit cards post, I am pleased to announce that today, I found my wallet. Yay!

It was exactly where I thought it should be, the same place I checked at least three times and the spot my wife checked at least twice. Believe it or not, this mystical vortex was a single pocket of a backpack. How did we miss a lost wallet in five+ checks of the very same backpack pocket? Magic...

I could go into details and explain exactly how it happened, but I won't. I'd rather mention my other interesting find of the day. All of this losing and finding and backpack pocket business is related to my hobby of gold prospecting. Yep, the yellow stuff and yes, people still do that.

So I was out panning for gold today in a spot I've been visiting lately. I found some gold, a ton of black sand that I'll clean later, a bunch of lead shot, a 22 bullet and a tiny red arrowhead. Here's a pic:

Is that not the cutest little arrowhead you've ever seen?!? There's some gold in the pan as well, but the arrowhead (and the wallet) made my day!
I've never found an arrowhead before, so to find one, let alone one in such great shape, was pretty exciting.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Lost Credit Cards

As a wonderfully ironic follow up to my somehow prophetic credit cards post from August 26th where I said:

Looking at this stack of cards makes me wonder just what the hell it is I plan to purchase - a small island maybe? Two of those cards mentioned I had forgotten I even had! If I lost my wallet I'd just have to call all the credit card companies and ask them if I have an account, and if so, could they please cancel it. At least I don't have a shopaholic card (your choice of colors)...

What a genius thing to say! Why, low and behold, what should I do the very next day? Lose my farking wallet of course! Thankfully, the freakin' day before I posted that stupid, stupid, stupid doomsday credit cards post, so had a list of all the cards I needed to cancel.

Can you imagine the cumulative hold time for canceling that many lost cards?!?! Unfortunately, I don't have to imagine... It's a lot! Two beers easy.

Even more fun, I still need to cancel my library card, get a new driver's license, replace my health insurance card - even get a new Safeway card. Ugh!

For your convenience, I've listed a bunch of the credit card company phone numbers below, just in case you've lost your cards and can't be bothered surfing to the their websites and hitting "contact us". I've also included the number for calling collect if outside the US (in parentheses). Aren't I special?

  • mbna - 800.421.2110 (302.738.5719)
  • Bank of America - 800.552.7302 (509.353.1830)
  • citi - 800.950.5114 (605.335.2222)
  • United - 800.537.7783 (847.888.6600)
  • REI - 877.REI.8742 < I hate dialing letters (701.461.2932)
  • American Express - 800.528.4800 (336.393.1111)

Oh hell. You can look the rest up yourself. You're on the blooming internet for cripe's sake...



Sunday, August 27, 2006

Reverse Mortgages

Huh? I've heard this mentioned a few times lately, so thought I'd do some digging and get the scoop for myself. And here you go...

According to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), a reverse mortgage is a loan on your home that you typically don't have to pay anything back on until you die, sell your home, or move. Borrowers can can opt for an immediate cash advance at closing, a creditline account that lets them take cash advances whenever at any time during the life of the loan, monthly cash advances or any combination of immediate cash advance, creditline account, and monthly cash advance.

Most reverse mortgages require the borrower to be at least 62, but unlike most loans, reverse mortgages have no income requirements, as there are no monthly payment requirements. Also, unlike a traditional mortgage with rising equity and falling debt, reverse mortgages generally have falling equity and rising debt.

Another interesting point is that most reverse mortgages are nonrecourse loans, which essentially means you can never owe more than the value of your home at the time you move, die, sell, etc. Your other assets remain free and clear. So even if you opted for monthly cash advances and lived to be 120, borrowing much more than the value of your home, you only owe as much as your home is worth.

This just scratches the surface. For some great info on reverse mortgages, visit They know these things inside and out.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Credit Cards

Honestly, how many do we really need? Do we really need any?

Checking my wallet I have eight, count them, eight freakin' credit cards in my wallet (plus one debit card)! Sadder still, that's just the ones I carry. I also have a debit card and some English credit cards that I only use, you guessed it, when visiting the UK...!

I have a Citi Home Rebate Platinum Select card for cash back towards my mortgage, an American Express Blue Cash card for use at Costco, my low interest Bank of America Platinum Plus for big purchases, Alaska Airlines Platinum for air miles, another Bank of America Platinum (no idea why I have this one), a Capital One Business Platinum card in some effort to build a credit rating for my business, an REI Visa for the once a year I spend a fortune at REI (regular plastic, no metals) and hell, why not carry a United Mileage Plus gold class card for even more air miles...?

Looking at this stack of cards makes me wonder just what the hell it is I plan to purchase - a small island maybe? Two of those cards mentioned I had forgotten I even had! If I lost my wallet I'd just have to call all the credit card companies and ask them if I have an account, and if so, could they please cancel it. At least I don't have a shopaholic card (your choice of colors)...

The other thing I notice is that they've started making up new card classifications just so they can give you more cards. Platinum is different than platinum plus and platinum select how exactly?

I've managed to fix my credit and I suppose this is the down side, but it's sort of shocking. It wasn't that many years ago that I had to pay $60 a year for a card with a $250 credit line and 24% interest. Having put in the effort to fix my credit I'm careful, but I can see how so many people build such massive credit card debt. Give somebody the power to buy an island and they just might!

I need to get rid of some of these. It's time I went for my semi-annual call up and negotiate or cancel session. Try it sometime, it works. It's weird what good credit will do for you. Just call up each card, ask what your limit and interest rate are. Then ask for a better rate and/or higher limit. Some will even offer extra bonuses like 0% on balance transfer for the next year, etc. When your done calling, cancel the worst card.

Anyway, nobody is actually reading this, so I'll end here...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Morning After Pill

The FDA approved non-prescription sales of the morning after pill (Plan B pill) manufactured by Barr Pharmaceuticals today, but only to those over the age of 18. Those under 18 would still need a prescription.

Read the article >>>

As I'm sure we all might've expected, several things happened shortly after the news.

1. Barr stock rose (only $.11, but still decent).

2. Supporters hailed the decision, but cried foul at the age limit.

3. Opponents, primarily religious nutters and Bush supporters, threatened legal action over the fact that anyone can now get the Plan B pill without a prescription.

As for number one, I'm not really in the market for buying shares, but I can see this one continuing to rise.

Number two, I can see their point. Forcing young men and women to get a prescription the "morning after" before they can buy the pill just means more unwanted pregnancies. For those that miss the logic, it's pretty simple; if they wanted the pregnancy, they wouldn't want the pill...

Number three is pretty typical of that group. You know that group. They're made up of lots of smaller groups, many with wildly divergent agendas, but sharing one overriding driving force - that being to put their greasy thumbprints on every single thing the rest of us tries to do...

Every sperm is sacred. We get it... Oh? Not every sperm, just whenever a sperm gets near an egg? Oh okay, only when the sperm is likely getting in the vicinity of an egg and the two aren't married? Or is when the sperm is likely to die trapped in a condom? When the sperm is gay? I'm lost.

I guess I won't ever get it until I grasp the concept that sex is only okay when it is done strictly in order to procreate, and even then it's not supposed to be fun for either participant and they must be married (in a church by a priest). The woman is not allowed to feel pleasure and the man should be made to feel inadequate and self conscious about the size of his penis. Only then is sex okay in the eyes of that group...

The rest of us, we who are capable of seeing the upside of reducing unwanted pregnancy, teen pregnancy, drop out rates of teenage girls due to pregnancy and so on, need to keep pushing for sex education, easy access to condoms, non-prescription Plan B pills, etc. We've gotten lazy and the nuts have taken over the asylum.