Bubble.. Bubble.. bubble.. Pop!

Sales of existing homes fell in 38 states during the summer, led by steep declines in Nevada, Arizona, Florida and California, as the once-booming housing market showed further signs of a steep slowdown.
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The nationwide 12.7 percent fall in sales was from a summer 2005 pace of 7.18 million units, which was the second highest in history. The all-time record sales pace was an annual rate of 7.19 million units set in the April-June quarter of last year.

AP Link

Two Gems

Found, two absolute gems on the Cato-at-Liberty blog –

Free Lunch Project

Are you frustrated at the loss of a free-ride and sense of entitlement in America, while the growth of government involvement and distribution of wealth stalls? Do you want to live in communities where your right to three meals a day and universal healthcare are respected? Do you want people to be responsible for the needy by taking the earnings of those who worked hard for them and redistributing it? Are you looking for freedom without responsibility?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then the Free Lunch Project has a solution for you.

Free State Project

Are you frustrated at the loss of freedom and responsibility in America, while the growth of government and taxes continues unabated? Do you want to live in strong communities where your rights are respected, and people exercise responsibility for themselves and in their dealings with each other?

If you answered “yes” to those questions, then the Free State Project has a solution for you.

New SSL Certs On The Way

Interesting read over on CNet regarding the new EV SSL (Extended Validation) secure certificates for e-commerce web sites which will soon be available. Browsers that detect these new certs will indicate their presence using color coded background painting of the address bar as an visual cue. This will replace that little yellow lock icon we’re all accustomed to ignoring today. The lock icon is pretty worthless as a trust indicator due to a whole slew of small, cheap cert companies that basically do little or no background checking before selling someone a new cert for their web site. The new EV SSL guidelines require a signifigant amount of background checking before the cert is issued. This is going to be a boon to companies like VeriSign which have always had a system of background checking in place for cert applicants but have seen their business underminded by the cost differences between issuing VeriSign high trust certs and the cheaper “limited trust” cert sellers.

Recession Sounds

Nouriel Roubini might be among the most bearish economists on Wall Street this year, but as shown again on Friday with the release of much weaker-than-expected third-quarter growth numbers, he’s also been among the most accurate.

That fact may be chilling, given that Roubini, a professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University and chairman of Roubini Global Economics, predicts a housing-led recession will be in place by the first quarter of 2007, or in the second quarter at the latest.

Few on Wall Street dare make that prediction. Economists employed by investment banks, of course, may have an implicit interest in being cheerleaders for economic growth. Growth implies earnings growth and stock market gains, and therefore more money for their firms. Investors won’t be drawn to the stock market if they know a recession is coming.

Federal Reserve officials, likewise, continue to predict a soft-landing for the economy even as they again left interest rates unchanged on Wednesday.

Yet, the facts remain that Roubini’s forecasts are amongst the most accurate – and prescient — so far.

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By then, “expect a nasty bear market in equities – in the average recession the S&P falls by 28% – once the delusional dream of permabulls leads them to wake up to the reality of the nasty and deep recession ahead,” Roubini wrote.

Marketwatch Link

Nouriel Roubini’s recent comments on his blog

Combine this with the announced rollback of some personal and corporate tax cuts and things could get ugly. I hope not though, the market seems to be doing really well now. It would really suck to go back into another moderate to heavy recessionary period.. but if it is, I want to be ready for it. Time to drill the investment advisor on what’s up ahead.

Pro Gay Sperm

My dad asked if we had voted yet, and at that point in the day we hadn’t. I told him not to fret none, because the day would not end before I had done my civic duty. And not just because it’s important to vote, but because the most motivational aspect of this here democracy is the fact that my vote? It will cancel out his. And I take a little too much pleasure knowing that when he lies down to go to sleep tonight, he’s going to linger a few seconds on the infuriating thought that because he contributed to the birth of such a liberal daughter, he most likely has a sperm or two or twelve hundred in his body that, if given the chance, would vote in favor of gay marriage.

Great blog called ‘dooce’ authored by Heather Armstrong. I’ve been following it for a while and enjoy her take on life quite bit.

More Eyes

The last two images of Uma Thurman are probably two of the most beautiful I’ve ever found. An image search on Uma will bring up various pictures, most of which aren’t taken when she’s at her best. I don’t have any interest in seeing Ms. Thurman’s thong while she’s bent over, or while she’s smoking topless on a beach. She’s an incredibly beautiful woman and I prefer to see her at her best. The last image above is rare and hard to find. I considering one of the best Thurman portraits ever taken. Wish I new where it came from.

Zune Review

The player was responsive and fast; all functions worked flawlessly and without delay. The software and storefront has a lot of new, unique features that make browsing and finding music a more engrossing, enjoyable experience. Obviously Apple is the game to beat — and a tough game at that — but something tells us this little player’s got some fight in it.

Engadget Review

I’ve got my Zune queued up on Amazon, ready to ship as soon as it’s available. I’m also picking up the car travel pack so I can listen to my tunes in my ride without having to purchase an expensive adapter. Nice!

Elastic Compute Cloud

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

Just as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) enables storage in the cloud, Amazon EC2 enables “compute” in the cloud. Amazon EC2’s simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazon’s proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change. Amazon EC2 changes the economics of computing by allowing you to pay only for capacity that you actually use.

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As an example, assume you launch 100 instances at some certain point in time. The instances will begin booting immediately, but they won’t necessarily all start at the same moment. Each instance will store its actual boot time. Thereafter, each instance will charge for its hours (at $.10/hour) of execution at the beginning of each hour relative to the exact moment it booted. Each instance will run until one of the following occurs: you terminate the instance with the TerminateInstances API call (or an equivalent tool), the instance shuts itself down (e.g. Unix “shutdown” command), or the host terminates due to software or hardware failure.

Neat.

Here’s a great Business Week article detailing everything Amazon is up too.