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Jun 27, 2010 at 1:05
When Proposition 13 went to the voters of California in 1978, it was as a result of crooked county assessors who “bent” the rules in property valuations to assist their friends, wealthy donors (assessors in California are, stupidly, elected officials) and, to some extent, in sympathy to elderly homeowners. Once those assessors were caught in their trickery the resulting property re-evaluations (mostly upwards, of course) caused a massive amount of voter anger.
The title of Proposition 13 was the People's Initiative to Limit Property Taxation and its main tenor was to limit property taxes to 1% of a property’s value per year. A formula allowed that value to be increased by 2% per year for inflation. The only ways that a base valuation could change would be at the sale of the property or after major additions or renovations (which you avoided telling the County Assessor’s office about). After a sale the transaction price becomes the new valuation base and is, again, only increased by a ...
Jun 19, 2010 at 10:08
You remember those pre 9/11 days, right? At my local airport the station manager for Horizon Airlines would just wave me through security. He knew me and I knew him. In the days after 9/11 that all changed, with a uniformed policeman at the security checkpoint amid very serious-looking faces. That’s when my Leatherman tool stopped traveling with me. It, plus needles and anything else even remotely sharp suddenly became things that you simply didn’t travel with.
I could have done with a Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife in the UK a couple of months ago. At a hotel in the north of England the shaver outlet in the bathroom (transformer powered for safety under British wiring regulations) didn’t work. I had the choice, at 7:30 in the morning, of going down to reception and getting a razor, changing rooms just to shave, or, as a nice technical challenge, of rigging up a 13 A ring main socket to the US twin bladed plug on my razor. It was not that easy on a live outlet with just my house key and fob...
Jun 13, 2010 at 9:45
Steve Jobs hailed the revised iPhone 4 at the Apple 2010 Worldwide Developers Conference as the best thing since the original phone was launched three years ago. Most analysts seem to have more moderate opinions but that may have been because of the earlier leaks created by Gizmodo when a prototype was carelessly left behind in a Redwood City beer house.
The major hype of the new phone i the additional camera that has been provided on the rear of the casing. This HD (720P) 5 Mpixel camera is backed up with an LED flash – which is permanently powered during video use. It opens up the world of video phone connections in a rather more novel, Skype-like, way than we have seen in the past, using the Wi-Fi connection for communications. Apple is calling the feature FaceTime, but my daughter, about as avid an iPhone user as you can get, thinks such enhancements are quite useless without zoom capability on the camera. The new display offers, apparently, a 326 pixel per square inch resolution to match the...
Jun 6, 2010 at 10:34
It has become a de rigueur aspect of the failing, elderly celebrity: television advertising. We have seen Johnny Carson’s sidekick Ed McMahon and stars from Little House On the Prairie, Mission Impossible, and the like, promoting everything from retrofitted bath units for the disabled to reverse mortgages. It is sad to see these stars – who should have been more financially comfortable in their later years – making a few dollars just to survive. Unfortunately, rather like many who receive their knighthoods in Britain, the very act of pitching products on the small screen seems to be a death sentence.
One hopes that is not so for George Takei, the actor who played Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek, who has taken to the airwaves to promote Sharp’s most recent LCD TV products using their so-called Quattro Technology. The latest commercial, dubbed Seahorse by its producers, tries to sell the idea that a fourth color of phosphor (how old fashioned of me!) in the form of yel...
Jun 1, 2010 at 12:10
I’m sure that many of our readers have been required to travel to foreign lands. (The vast majority actually live outside the US, with a very heavy residential emphasis in the Far East.) With that travel comes the opportunity - or inevitability - of experiencing many foods that we would have remained unaccustomed to if we had remained at home.
A lot of those food experiences have been very pleasant ones. Some have not. I don’t believe that I could face another sheep’s eyeball, for example; and I will never forget the faces of my Japanese hosts on the first occasion that I tried to eat Uni. It is very expensive and is often described as the roe of the sea urchin although it is, in fact, the gonads of the animal, and its creamy texture is beloved as a sushi item by a goodly proportion of the Japanese population. I must side with that smaller percentage of Japanese in finding uni quite revolting. It is a complete opposite to that other sashimi item from the Pacific Coast of North America, the ...