November 30, 2009
Helpful Hints from joeeze: How to clean stainless steel cutlery (and other stainless steel items)
1) Never mix different types of stainless steel (for example, a Georg Jensen stainless steel Leaf Bowl and Royal Doulton cutlery) in the same dishwasher cycle. Putting items with a different grade of stainless steel in the same dishwasher cycle can cause a chemical process which can leave marks on your stainless steel.
2) Always take cutlery out of the dishwasher straight away to avoid marks.
3) Every 25 times you use your dishwasher, you should run it empty. This is a waste of water but it cleans out the gunk from your dishwasher’s system.
4) Use liquid detergent rather than powdered or solid (cube) detergent as it is less abrasive.
5) Remove marks on stainless steel knife blades by soaking them in a sink with detergent, hot water and 1/4 cup of white vinegar.
6) Remove fingermarks on stainless steel fridges (or other appliances) with baby oil on cotton wool. It's essential that you rub with the grain of the steel (e.g. top to bottom only, or right to left only). Don't rub the cotton wool in circles like you would when cleaning a window.
What is it?
Answer here this time tomorrow.
'That Crafty Feeling' — by Zadie Smith
"A lecture given by the English author Zadie Smith to the students of Columbia University's writing program in New York on Monday, March 24, 2008."
"Discussed: Fraudulent and Fraudulent, Idiots, Kafka, Macro Planners and Micro Managers, Obsessive Perspective Disorder (OPD), Gravity's Rainbow, Derrida, Nabokov, Dostoyevsky, Crap, The Literary Echo Chamber, Apprenticeship, Magical Thinking, Victorian Boilers, Scaffolding, The Bhagavad-Gita, Donald Rumsfeld, Zeno, Roman Palazzos, Character, Odradek, Proofs, Smart Strangers, The Waste Land, Ezra Pound, Nausea."
That about covers it, what?
The lecture evolved into an essay which is among those in Smith's new collection, "Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays."
FunFact: Smith was born Sadie Smith.
It never fails to impress, how the tiniest change can cause the most enormous alteration in perception.
Nuance Chair — by Luca Nichetto
'The moral dimensions of ditching a mortgage'
I must say I was astounded to see the above-headlined column by Kenneth R. Harney in yesterday's Washington Post Real Estate section.
I mean, it's the nightmare of the pillars of capitalist society, whom Harney refers to as "... the 'the social control agents,' namely banks, government and the media."
Long story short: Harney focuses on "... a new academic paper by Brent T. White, a University of Arizona law school professor, titled "Underwater and Not Walking Away: Shame, Fear and the Social Management of the Housing Crisis."
The column follows.
The moral dimensions of ditching a mortgage
Go ahead. Break the chains. Stop paying on your mortgage if you owe more than the house is worth. And most important: Don't feel guilty about it. Don't think you're doing something morally wrong.
That's the incendiary core message of a new academic paper by Brent T. White, a University of Arizona law school professor, titled "Underwater and Not Walking Away: Shame, Fear and the Social Management of the Housing Crisis."
White argues that far more of the estimated 15 million American homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages should stiff their lenders and take a hike.
Doing so, he suggests, could save some of them hundreds of thousands of dollars that they "have no reasonable prospect of recouping" in the years ahead. Plus the penalties are nowhere near as painful or long-lasting as they might assume.
"Homeowners should be walking away in droves," according to White. "But they aren't. And it's not because the financial costs of foreclosure outweigh the benefits." Sure, credit scores get whacked when you walk away, he acknowledges. But as long as you stay current with other creditors, "one can have a good credit rating again -- meaning above 660 -- within two years after a foreclosure."
Better yet, you can default "strategically." Buy all the major items you'll need for the next couple of years -- a new car, even a new house -- just before you pull the plug on your current mortgage lender.
"Most individuals should be able to plan in advance for a few years of limited credit," White said, with minimal disruptions to their lifestyles.
What kind of law school professorial advice is this? Aren't mortgages legal contracts? In an interview, White said that in anti-deficiency states such as Arizona and California, mortgage lenders have limited or no legal rights to pursue defaulting homeowners' assets beyond the house itself. In other states, lenders may decide it is not worth the legal expense to pursue walkaways, or consumers may be able to find flaws in the mortgage documents, disclosures or underwriting to challenge the original contract.
The main point, he says, is that too often people's emotions get in the way of clear financial thinking about mortgages, turning them into what he calls "woodheads" -- "individuals who choose not to act in their own self-interest." Most owners are too worried about feelings of shame and embarrassment following a foreclosure, and ignore the powerful financial reasons for going through with it, he said.
Buttressing these emotions is a system that White labels "the social control of the housing crisis" -- pressures and messages continually sent to consumers by the "social control agents," namely banks, government and the media. The mantra these agents -- all the way up to President Obama -- pound into owners' heads, White says, is that "voluntarily defaulting on a mortgage is immoral."
Yet there is an inherent imbalance in the borrower-lender relationship that makes this morality message unfair to consumers: Banks set the rules during the housing boom, handing out home loans with no down payments, no income checks and inflated appraisals. Now that property values have dropped 20 to 50 percent in many areas, banks have been slow to modify troubled mortgages and reluctant to reduce principal debts.
Only when homeowners cut through the emotional fog and default strategically in large numbers, White argues, will this inequitable situation be seriously addressed.
How does White's 52-page manifesto go over with mortgage lenders? Predictably, not well. Officials at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- investors that fund the bulk of new mortgages in the country -- disputed White's characterization of how quickly after foreclosure a walkaway borrower can obtain a new loan. It's not three years, they said, but a minimum of five years, absent extenuating circumstances such as medical or employment problems that caused the foreclosure.
"Borrowers who walk away from their mortgage obligations face serious consequences" including severely depressed credit scores for extended periods, Fannie Mae spokesman Brian Faith said. In addition, he said, "there's a moral dimension to this as homeowners who simply abandon their homes contribute to the destabilization of their neighborhood and community."
Lewis Ranieri, chief executive of several major mortgage-related companies and one of the pioneers of the mortgage securities industry, called White's entire argument "incredibly irresponsible and misinformed." Not only is the professor urging consumers to break legally binding contracts, Ranieri said, but if large numbers of them did so it would send home mortgage rates soaring and "tear apart the very basis" upon which mortgage lending rests -- the understanding that borrowers will honor their commitments and pay back the money they borrowed.
Here's the abstract of White's paper.
Underwater and Not Walking Away: Shame, Fear and the Social Management of the Housing Crisis
Despite reports that homeowners are increasingly "walking away" from their mortgages, most homeowners continue to make their payments even when they are significantly underwater. This article suggest that most homeowners choose to not to strategically default as a result of two emotional forces: 1) the desire to avoid the shame and guilt of foreclosure; and 2) exaggerated anxiety over foreclosure's perceived consequences. Moreover, these emotional constraints are actively cultivated by the government and other social control agents in order to encourage homeowners to follow social and moral norms related to the honoring of financial obligations — and to ignore market and legal norms under which strategic default might be both viable and the wisest financial decision. Norms govening homeowner behavior stand in sharp contrast to norms governing lenders, who seek to maximize profits or minimize losses irrespective of concerns of morality or social responsibility. This norm asymmetry leads t distibutional inequalities in which individual homeowners shoulder a disproportionate burden from the housing collapse.
No problema: read the paper in its entirety here by clicking on one of the buttons near the top of the page to download it.
Free, the way we like it.
JoinUsInFrance.net — 'Over 500 French cheeses pictured and described'
Mmmm, French cheese.
Charles De Gaulle in 1961 remarked, "Any country with 300 different kinds of cheese is ungovernable."
David Wykes and Benoit Collette.
[via Jhuly Johns]