UNOS, Cleveland, My FFX Taxes, and Insurance!

Always fun times here on the blog. Here’s a brief update on life in my world.

Today marks the debut of the United Nations of Sound (UNOS) premier album. The group’s lead singer is former Verve lead Richard Ashcroft. My favorite song of all time is Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve, which is famous for its quasi-legal sampling of a Rolling Stones song. Ashcroft doesn’t disappoint with further sampling of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” We have to keep the lawyers employed, right?

Well, this album debuted today in the UK and other English speaking countries — just not here. I am getting conflicting reports that it’ll be available tomorrow, and Amazon.com new informs me that it will be available within 8 days. We’ll see in about 6 minutes whether it debuts here tomorrow…  Well, I couldn’t wait, so I bought the album from a vendor in Australia (thanks globalization + internet!). The last time I waited for an Ashcroft song to be released in the United States that I really wanted — it never happened. I had to buy the extended version of Bittersweet Symphony off Amazon 13 years after the fact. I just got sick of waiting. Maybe it’ll come out on iTunes or be available in stores, maybe it won’t. All I know is that I am going to get a copy of it.

Cleveland! Mary, Betsy, and I visited Cleveland this weekend. As you can imagine, it was chock full of fun. Indians game with fireworks (we won, and swept the Tigers at home for the first time since around the 1940’s) and had food at Winking Lizard, La Dolce Vita, White Castle, and Melt — with a round of golf at Shaker Country Club. Mary enjoyed the White Castle trip, a requisite for any girl I would date, but Mary loves WC, too, which is one reason why she has dated me for 11+ months! She enjoyed the fare at Winking Lizard after the game on Friday, as far as I could tell, and had a blast in Little Italy. After all, how could she not enjoy “Murray Hill?” Our Sunday Brunch at the new Cleveland Heights location of Melt was great, because the food was good and we didn’t have to wait 3 hours for it.

On the way back, Mary and I endured traffic both leading into and out of the famed town of Breezewood, Pennsylvania, a town more dependent on government decisions than Cleveland or Detroit. It was painful. Part of it was some ass-clown who flipped his semi after getting off of I-76. I usually do not patronize Pennsylvania any more than I have to, but Mary and I decided to try the new “Doublicious” at the Breezewood KFC, quite possibly one of the worst in the nation. As a YUM! shareholder, I worry that their quality control is akin to Wendy’s which doesn’t bode well for their brands, if you ask me, but I digress. Long John Silvers has unfortunately suffered because of it, and I love their food. My sandwich was OK, but Mary’s was lacking, and it showed in her dismal ratings of the restaurant on the $1,000 contest, which nobody I know has ever won. At SLU, I loved getting the original sandwich with American cheese and potato wedges. Not sure why they got rid of such a good thing.

Capitol after the rain

Went to work on Monday, had a late night and avoided the rain storm by way of the Capitol. Provided a good opportunity for a picture of the mall from outside the Dole balcony.

The FFX Fire Dept

I got back to find that my Condo building was again evacuated for a false alarm — thanks Kettler! Glad to know that the Fire Department at least shows up. Tax dollars well spent, except I am quite sure they are fining our condo building. I thought, erroneously, that the letter in my mailbox from Fairfax County’s Watershed Project Evaluation Branch was about the recent water main break we had. I was wrong. Turns out that FEMA is not going to recertify our building for the purposes of exemption from federally mandated flood insurance for government-backed loans. Thankfully, the unit my sister and I occupy was never part of a mortgage backed by the geniuses at our GSEs Fannie and Freddie, or by the Federal Housing Administration. We may be off the hook, so to speak, but the rest of the building will now have to buy federal flood insurance. We’re looking into it whether now that our unit is owned free and clear whether we have to buy the flood insurance.

I understand the point of flood insurance, but I have scruples about the government mandating insurance of any kind, and disagree with the Bush administration about flood insurance. Especially when most floods in the Huntington area are likely caused by expansion of the I-495 Beltway / Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Eat your heart out, I say, to fellow  conservatives fighting HCR with regard to the commerce clause. Just try and make sure we get some relief, too with regards to flood insurance. The Army Corps of Engineers puts us in the “1% annual chance flood plain (100-year floodplain) and are at risk of flooding again in the future.” Call me crazy, but forcing all of us to purchase insurance to insure against a 1% annual chance of flooding is bullshit. Court challenges, to some degree, have failed to prove that flooding was not due to nature. The timing is a bit suspect to me, as well. More on this as the situation progresses.

Anyway, here is the letter.

Lastly, this incident got me thinking about an article I ready today in The Weekly Standard that talked about looters in Oakland, and how looting will lead to higher insurance premiums for Oakland businesses. It just kind of confirmed to me Sowell’s contention that prices for goods are higher in poorer areas due to higher insurance costs — all passed on to consumers. Insurance rates rising because of looting is a good example of this.

The Weekly Standard also spoofed Cleveland in the same issue, describing my native Shaker Heights as having:

“broken the national record for per capita consumption of anti-depressant pills…”

Obviously hilarious, but not maybe too far from the truth.

Full photo album of my Cleveland trip is here. Enjoy.

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