Archive for May, 2007

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19, 2007 by stephenhuey

Just watched Blood Diamond for the first time.  Despite the overwhelming presence of Hollywood throughout the film, that stuff is largely true…De Beers running the diamond world, etc.  But while I may have gotten hot-headed about topics such as that many times in my past life, that’s not where my thoughts were as I lay on the couch afterward. 

I remember discussing with a friend half a decade ago….it seems like much of my imagining of life in Africa is romanticized.  Still, there are so many memories and so many fantasies of what life could be like there, and with whom…people I’ve wanted to be with, people I miss, people I just realized I might never see again even though they’re in the same country as me.  Some people I’ve missed out on having real, transparent and unselfish conversations with through no fault other than my own.  How many times since I was a boy have I imagined taking the woman I marry to places that almost don’t exist anymore? 

It always seemed as if I remember a lot from when I was very young.  Tonight I realized how many remembrances have been forgotten, and I don’t even know when they stopped coming to mind.  So much to draw upon, so much to fuel my everyday living.  I don’t want to forget anymore!  

I don’t want to fear anymore.  I don’t want to be afraid to dream, to expect that the best is possible. 

Careful with the laptops, boys…

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2007 by stephenhuey

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this!  I admit I’ve been more skeptical than protective, and I hope that doesn’t come back to burn me (them). 

I was wrong…

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2007 by stephenhuey

Wired pointed out that on this day in 1939, a Peruvian girl gave birth to a son at the age of 5.  The urban legend watchdog site Snopes confirms the veracity of this story, and it’s repeated on thousands of other webpages.   Lina Medina experienced precocious puberty, so she had her first period at 8 months and became fully sexually developed within a few years.  In case you’d rather not stumble upon it, be advised that there is a nude photo of her on Wikipedia and other sites. 

Her parents didn’t even realize she was pregnant until they took her to see the doctor about the massive “tumor” growing in her belly!  This 1939 TIME article shows the early skepticism among medical professionals in the United States, but from current accounts, it sounds as if they came to accept the story as true and unsuccessfully tried to get the girl up for a visit.  Apparently, there was a similar pregnancy with a 6-year old Russian girl, and precocious puberty is known to show up from time to time. 

My tennis coach in Nigeria showed me a tabloid newspaper article about some Argentinian girl having a child at the age of 4, and I argued with him about whether or not that was possible.  Now about 15 years later I finally found out I was wrong! 

Real estate rebels

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14, 2007 by stephenhuey

Don’t scroll right on past this in your subscription list!  Just hear me out for a second.  I even put in a link to a Lego symphony just to make this post worthwhile for the most apathetic among you.  🙂 

Because of my roommate, I’ve recently watched Why We Fight, the corporations documentary, and the Enron one.  He also filters the 60 Minutes episodes for me and points out any good ones.  As you might imagine, a lot of this stuff is about some little guys fighting the incumbent big boys and these nasty battles often impact the consumer (you, me, and our cats and dogs).  Anyway, check this out…

Say you sell your house for $300,000.  6% of that is the standard realtor commission, so that means he/she gets

300,000 x 0.06 = 18,000

eRealty wanted to save you some of that money, and they tried, but the head honchos in Austin changed up the local market rules to say that eRealty couldn’t post houses for sale on its website.  Since eRealty didn’t have a contingency plan in place to start selling cumquats or something else besides houses on its website, they were sued for breaking the rule.  Fortunately, they won the lawsuit.  After that, the National Association of Realtors (do you hear Imperial March from Star Wars?) said eRealty wasn’t allowed access to the housing database they lost $33 million dollars on their way to bankruptcy.  At least the Justice Department is protecting us by suing that assocation of fat cat realtors. 

So now there’s Redfin, and they want to be operating in every state by the end of next year.  However, several states have laws in place to keep online realtors out, so that’ll have to change for them to succeed.  Why should we be happy about companies like Red Fin, and why are so many commercial interests against them?  Well, remember that $18,000 you’d have to pay?  Get this:

Red Fin charges a flat $3,000 commission on every deal! 

Home prices have been rising for years, and realtors keep charging the same 6% commission (meaning they make more and more money).  Most real estate agents close no more than 8 deals per year, but Redfin handles almost everything online and their agents complete hundreds of deals.  Not only do they make money, but they also save all of us lots of money!  So who is losing out?  The fat cat traditional realtors who aren’t adapting to technological advances.  Because Red Fin is so efficient, they have even been refunding 2/3 of the commission that the buyer typically pays! 

Last fall, I wondered what all my realtor does to make the money she obviously has.  I’m sure she puts in many hours, and a company like Redfin obviously threatens her livelihood, but plenty of other workers have to adapt when innovation changes the way things can be accomplished in their industry.  No doubt this is up for debate, but one guy claims that real estate is the most screwed-up industry in America.