Thursday, May 21, 2009

What Daily Sprawl is Watching...

...presenting the winner of this year's CNU short film contest.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What Daily Sprawl is Watching...

...this short documentary explains how much of the current economic crisis was artificially instigated.

Watch the thought-provoking story here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What Daily Sprawl is Considering...

Well, it doesn't take much of an I.Q. to see that the federal government is spending like a mall rat with their parents credit card in hand. It's really quite startling when you consider the actual numbers.

To do so, check out these videos which explain the math in interesting but basic terms.

A couple of things before you do though:

1. These videos are based on math, not partisanship. That's key because, like many, Daily Sprawl is independent. No party-carrying cards here. So, while watching, view the facts presented independently without political assumptions or biases. Doing so will lead to the second curious point...

2...of the last five Presidents, there was one Administration and Congress that spent much less than others. Can you guess? Reagan (nope). Bush One or Two (wrong again). Obama (no way so far).

That leaves Clinton. Now I'm not a big fan of Clinton but the math is the math. It does not lie. Meaning that, when it comes to fiscal restraint--that Administration and that Congress were the most frugal since, well, Truman.

Anyhow, take a look. It's quite starting where the current Administration is taking federal spending.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Daily Sprawl Reading...

...interested in how you can improve your health by eating better? Well, noted author Michael Pollan has an excellent interview now on-line.

Check it out here.

He goes a long way toward dispelling the intellectually-weak argument that you can't eat naturally without spending gobs of money. That's really nothing more than following the sheep-like marketing that agribusiness spends alot of money promoting.

Don't be a sheep.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Daily Sprawl Watching...

...I.O.U.S.A--an excellent documentary on the devastating, long-term fiscal challenges that our national budget is facing.

Watch a free version of the documentary here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Now This Is Shocking...

Check out these videos of nearly finished new homes being demolished essentially because of no demand and negative value.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Real Life Fiction?

Is there any truth to the rumor that "24"'s tragic hero Jack Bauer will next take on Goldman Sachs?

Not quite, but this MarketWatch columnist finds some comparisons worth noting.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Green Commute?

It looks like that's the literal truth for several European rail lines.

Read (and see) the whole story here (h/t John Acken).

UPDATE: See the above image. It's not just Europe...New Orleans also has some greened rail/trolley track, too...

Some of the Best Cookies Ever...

...sounds like a big compliment, right?

Well, it's well-deserved for Nadja's Cookies. We recently sampled several for an upcoming magazine article on organic and natural foods.

Let's just say that if you like macaroons then this is your moment of cookie zen...

Imagine Living in This Place...

...Stark. Brutually stark in a oddly surreal way.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Government Sachs...

...from Rubin with Clinton, to Paulson with Bush, and now Geithner with Obama, "Government Sachs" a/k/a Goldman Sachs has been pulling the levers of regulatory power across a host of administrations.

This NYT column
explains the problem with that:
Why kill Lehman and save A.I.G.? The theory, we now know, was that the government felt it needed to save the firms, including Goldman Sachs, that had insured many of their risky ventures through the insurer. Indeed, had Mr. Paulson decided not to save A.I.G., its counterparties would have suffered serious losses. Lehman’s creditors will be lucky to get back pennies on the dollar.
Daily Sprawl predicts that Goldman that aspiring politician (probably a State Attorney General or such) will decide that taking on Goldman will be a good political move and indictments will result.

Don't be surprised at all to see this in 2009.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Lawsuit Forces Companies to Come Clean...

Too often, companies are able to hide the chemicals in their cleaning products from the consumer.

Fortunately, a recent lawsuit has pushed one major corporation to become more transparent about their product contents.

Read the story here.

Feeling Down?

Maybe you need something uplifting, something that inspires you today?

If so, then watch this.

What a wonderful example of refusing to concede to conventional wisdom...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

India's Agricultural "Revolution"...

...NPR had a story this morning on how India's alleged "revolution" in agriculture is actually leading the country toward an abyss of unsustainable, petro-chemical addicted farming.

Why should Daily Sprawl's non-Indian readers care about what is happening in India?

The answer is simple: it's current problems foreshadow potential agriculture problems here in the U.S. because they are both based on the false hope of petro-chemical farming.

Listen to the NPR story here.

And, while you're at it, rent, buy, or borrow this book: Animal, Vegetable, MiracleIt's one book that, more than just about any other, has changed our way of thinking about how we grow, what we grow, and when we grow. A must-read for Daily Sprawl Readers.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What is the Real Unemployment Rate?

Well, it's not the 8.5% that is generally being reported. That number is flawed because it excludes several categories of people who are suffering job income loss but do not fall within the very narrow, technical definition of unemployment used by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As usual, Mish Shedlock has an excellent post explaining this shell game in easy to understand detail. Read it here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fighting Asthma and Other Respiratory Problems...

Did you know that many common household products can exacerbate various breathing problems such as asthma? Yet another reason to get rid of chemical-based cleaners and bodycare products.

This recent article from the Seventh Generation blog does a good job framing the issue:
Case in point is a new study from Johns Hopkins, which finds that the risk of asthma rises with the increase in air pollution inside the home. The study is one of many that have recently connected the quality of the air kids are breathing at home with the number of emergency room visits they make for asthma attacks.
On that same topic, Daily Sprawl recently ran across a fantastic-sounding air purifier product while doing research for another article. Check out the Paralda by Alen Corp. (image above) and the interesting and important story behind its founder and his family's battle with childhood respiratory challenges.

A very compelling example of how its time to ditch the chemicals--if for no other reason than to reduce the threats to our childrens' health...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bank Bailout Protests...

...seem to be getting more and more organized lately. Here's an example.

Monday, April 6, 2009

NFL Writer Advocates for Walkable Communities?

Yep, you read that one right. It appears that well-known Sports Illustrated writer and television personality Peter King is clicking with his new walkable life.

Now, I wouldn't sign him up for the CNU just yet but sometimes you find accidental allies in the most curious places.

From his weekly NFL column:
Aggravating/Enjoyable Travel Note of the Week
Stayed close to home this week. But I'm finding something interesting about city life. (For those who don't know, my wife and I moved to Boston a month ago, and we're still settling in. Enjoying it a lot so far.) From last Monday morning to Sunday night , I drove my car once, two miles to the Home Depot. That's it. I wonder if I need a car. I suppose I'll need one as time goes on, but I miss nothing about driving. Walking is good.

Scenes from the Recession...

...The Boston Globe has put together a powerful photo essay--several of which are very sprawl-centric--of the current economic difficulties.

Check out the photo essay here

Friday, April 3, 2009

This is Bewildering!

From the Financial Times::
US banks that have received government aid, including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase, are considering buying toxic assets to be sold by rivals under the Treasury’s $1,000bn (£680bn) plan to revive the financial system.

The plans proved controversial, with critics charging that the government’s public-private partnership - which provide generous loans to investors - are intended to help banks sell, rather than acquire, troubled securities and loans.
Really very little commentary is needed. If this is allowed to happen, then the current mortgage crisis will essentially become a close-circuited, self-perpetuating problem. I mean really: buying depreciated loans to help raise money to pay off your existing depreciated loans. Sounds like the person who cuts off their left arm to buy a better right one.

Congress must act quickly to prevent this brazen effort by certain banks that exist only because the Federal government is propping them up as it appears that the Treasury Department is prepared to allow this to go forward.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Shouldn't More People Just Be Paying...

...HR Block or some other tax service to do this.

This has become a pattern and I suspect its not limited to any particular party or administration. Yes, the tax code is complicated, but professional tax services don't really cost that much to get it right.

Forget Homebuyers... even the banks are walking away from properties.

The new reality conversation apparently goes something like this:

City: "Foreclosure?"
Bank: "Uh, no thanks, our CEO doesn't think its worth the cost."

Mish Shedlock has the story here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Here's a Very Important Article...

A Daily Sprawl "Must Read" from the latest issue of The Atlantic.

More AIG Mischief...

The Zero Hedge blog has an exclusive on very, very troubling details related to AIG.

Read the entire story here:
For those to whom this is merely a lot of mumbo-jumbo, let me explain in layman's terms:
AIG, knowing it would need to ask for much more capital from the Treasury imminently, decided to throw in the towel, and gifted major bank counter-parties with trades which were egregiously profitable to the banks, and even more egregiously money losing to the U.S. taxpayers, who had to dump more and more cash into AIG, without having the U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner disclose the real extent of this, for lack of a better word, fraudulent scam.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another City and its Slow Demise...

...this time its Flint, Michigan.

As a child and through my college years, I would often drive through Flint, Michigan on the way to my grandparents home in Bay City, Michigan. While we would rarely spend time in the downtown part of city, Flint was a frequent passage in my childhood travels.

Even then, the city seemed mired in a certain type of melancholy. Like the tired workers in an industry whose brightest days will remain long past.

Sadly, Flint's demise continues. Worse still, little hope appears to be left.