Friday, 27 November 2009

The Money Pit Island

Back around 2000, I read up on this construction project called Palm Jumeirah. Basically....it was to be a man-made island...off the coast of Dubai. The company involved....owned by the Dubai government.

This project...the size of 800 football fields...was to be this luxury villa place....where only rich folks came to live and "play". Billions upon billions were to be involved in the construction....and it would cost around $10 million....just to get a very small modest apartment in the complex to be built.

This was a decade-long project. Lots of important folks have bought properties on the island....from VIPs of London, soccer players, the ultra rich of NY City, and even Russian mafia players.

From the very beginning....I kept asking....if you got all this sand and real estate on the mainland around Dubai....why the heck do you go and build this stupid island? Frankly, the only logical answer was that it was a money pit to toss money into.

So as the US financial crisis erupted last year....and lots of rich folks suddenly woke up from the Madorf dream and realized how poor they really were.....this Palm Jumeirah project started to stumble.

Now, the prices have dropped by fifty percent. The guys in charge are scared. The whole economy of Dubai is suddenly shaking over the possibility of massive failure. The money pit did exactly what you imagined. People who own properties and have yearly "fee" situations required....are now settling a $2 million property for $400k....just to get out of the mess there.

The people at the top of this mess....think it can survive and make it out of the economic problems...maybe over the next four years. Some people believe that it's not the deal that was advertised....and maybe it might just die off completely within five years.

Me? I'm still wondering why you build an artificial island....when you still got tens of millions of acres of perfectly good desert just sitting there?

Reality TV Spiral


Ok, so a day or two has now passed on this couple who crashed the President's big White House state dinner.

What we now know...is that this was for a reality television program. The couple? Michaele and Tareq Salahi.

The reality show involved? "The Real Housewives of D.C."

It's a new program and this couple would just be one of several used for the program.

So I sat there...pondering this mess. I was used to reality shows involving Hulk Hogan, Paris Hilton, and Johnny Knoxville (Jackass). I've sat and watched a show or two on swinging lesbians and swinging gay guys. I've watched the British series...Big Brother. I've watched Flavor Flav....trying to win the heart of Brigitte Nelson in Strange Love...which almost melted my heart away. I even watched two dozen episodes of Dog the Bounty Hunter (his wife carries the show, but that's just my opinion).

I could stand most of those shows...but now, if you said that political reality is in....and we got to watch folks play around DC....with the President, Senators, Representatives, and lobbyists involved...I think I'd go nuts.

No, this would be the breaking point. I simply couldn't handle a bunch of fakes on national TV nightly...with some senator uttering "I love you honey" to some slutty doped up girlfriend. I couldn't handle some state department wussy talking trash over Haiti and then kissing up to the President of Haiti the next week. I couldn't handle some NBC White House reporter doing the big defense of the Obama team....and then watch him get private bits of info from the White House daily to use for his broadcast.

Yes, we've reached the breaking point of reality TV. Frankly, we can't handle a politically charged show...that turns everything into soap opera. And if we do accept this...why bother voting for some idiot democrat or republican...when I could have Jerry Springer as President? That's really the big question.

Bad Roads

There's a great story....which probably won't get mentioned much at the national level....over roads and drivers in America.

Truckers came in and started rating both drivers and roads in the nation. If you had to look for a honest group...who travels daily over our roads...it's these guys. And you might be surprised over what they say.

First, they rated the worst drivers in America. And they came to an interesting tie...between Georgia and California. As one trucker put it...if you got to drive into LA...you try to aim for 3AM...otherwise...it's extremely high stress coping with the locals. And some truckers commented on Georgia drivers....wondering where they got their license from.

Frankly, after making a run through Atlanta back around 2004 to get over to the airport...I came away amazed that I didn't hit someone around mid-morning hours. The bad nature of driving and sheer bulk of traffic...made it a hair-raising experience.

Somewhere behind those two states....came New Jersey, Illinois and Maryland.

Then the truckers started talking about the worst individual roads in America. Funny thing...it's I-40/I-30 in Arkansas and I-10 in Louisiana. I've been on both. I considered them to substandard and poorly laid. They don't measure up to any interstate stretch in the entire state of Bama...and that's a huge insult.

Finally, the truckers got down to overall road safety and maintenance....and both Arkansas and Louisiana won easily as number one and number two. I had no disagreement with either choice. I can still remember driving around Shreveport in 1982 and wondering what they were spending their state highway funds on. You'd come up on a new stretch of road just built...and there would be all kinds of issues on a brand new road...which you wouldn't expect.

There was a bridge between Bossier City and Shreveport...made at a slanted rate of a couple of degrees. Because of the design...the minute freezing rain came...this became a closed bridge until it was well salted.

The curious thing here....nowhere amongst any of these lists here....did the truckers mention Bama. In fact...they didn't mention Arizona either. That might be indicating something positive in both states.

Tactical Nuclear Penguin


At some point....I knew it would happen. 32 percent alcohol beer.

It was believed somewhere in the Bible....that God kinda put the limit on beer not going past 4.5 percent alcohol....or least some Bama guys felt that way.

Recently....several companies had gone to the edge and produced not just ten percent....but even sixteen percent alcohol beer.

Now....comes Tactical Nuclear Penguin.

Yes, the "nuke" Penguin brew. Made by a company called BrewDog in Fraserburgh, north-east Scotland.

Here's the thing though...it's almost $45 a bottle....which probably will keep most of you away from it.

BrewDog maintains that this is an "imperial stout" which only true beer connoisseurs will consume. I paused while reading this....'beer connoisseurs'? In the state of Bama...we have well over two million such connoisseurs...but they sure as heck won't be paying $45 a bottle when they can buy Pabst Blue Ribbon for a buck.

Brewdog says they will only sell online...and at two locations in Edinburgh and London. My guess is that consumer demand and a demand for a better price...will lower this down to $18 a bottle within a month or two. They are making a huge profit off the current pricing scheme.

So you can imagine this scene....a couple of the guys come over. You pull out this case of beer that you spent $400 for....and give each guy a "Nuke" Penguin. After the first sip....they ask where you bought it....and then they mention that it's got a mighty fine punch to it. Later, after the third beer....they are laying on the porch and you gotta call their wife and come and pick them up.