Today I registered for the DEA. I bought some cold medicine. Thanks to the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 I got to show ID and register for the DEA to purchase one $5 package of Tylenol Cold & Sinus.

NPR proclaims this law a fabulous success. In an article titled “Mexican ‘Ice’ Replaces Home-Cooked Meth in U.S.” NPR says:

The nation’s war on drugs has at least one successful battle: State and federal laws limiting access to cold medicines containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine have dramatically curtailed small “mom and pop” meth labs.

Of course, the article notes that the home-cooked product has just been replaced with a newer, more powerful form of the drug from Mexico.

Congratulations to our politicians. We have once again assaulted the liberties of average, law-abiding citizens while simultaneously making both over-the-counter cold medicines and the drug problem worse. It seems almost inarguable to me that the more power we grant to bureaucrats the less safe and productive our lives become. The last law passed by Congress that actually improved things was in 1964. 43 years is a long, long time to go without a single useful act by our government. You’d think we would eventually figure out that less is more.

This doesn’t really fit here, but I’m starting to think about selling my house. Not right away, but perhaps as early as next spring, or the spring after. Today I came across an article on “7 Questions to Ask Before Signing A Listing Agreement” by Bob Bruss. Bruss has a number of real estate reports available on his web site.

The first rule is interview at least agents before you pick one. Find the three by talking to friends, neighbors, and business associates. The seven questions are:

  1. How much can you get for my home? An agent should provide comparables and you should keep a copy of them to compare between agents.
  2. What are the names, addresses, and phone numbers of your 5 most recent sellers? How many days on the market did it take you to sell? You should call all the references and ask if there were any issues with the agent.
  3. How long have you been selling homes in this area? Do you sell full time? What are your certifications and designations? Where do you live? This is just good background. You may find a great agent who is part-time, but you need to know in order to compare.
  4. What is your minimum listing term? Go for 90 days. If they insist on longer get an unconditional cancel clause for after 90 days. If they say “the average listing in your area is 123 days…” tell them you’re not paying thousands of dollars in commission for an “average” agent.
  5. What is your marketing plan for my home? All agents should have a good plan kit that includes MLS, weekday tour for agents, weekend open house 1x-2x per month, newspaper ads 1x per week, website listings, brochures (ask to see samples)
  6. How many listings do you have now? What are their addresses? Do you have an office assistant? related questions:
    • what day(s) of the week do you take off?
    • who covers for you when you are gone?
    • how promptly do you return phone calls and e-mails?
    • will I be dealing with you or an assistant?
    • are you planning any vacations during the next three months?
  7. What sales commission do you charge for a listing like mine? You pretty much have to pay to play. FSBOs are a lot of work and no matter what you have to pay the buyer’s agent.

I really hate moving. I’ve been in this house for 12 years, but it’s time to start planning the exit strategy. My home is in a subdivision and, while it’s nice, it’s not one that is going to stay nice forever. By the time I leave it will be nearly 15 years old and many of the houses will be starting to show their age. Life is not like the old days, where your folks lived in the same house for decades. I’ll be moving on. Maybe it will be a good time to get rid of much of my accumulated junk.

CYA Security is a great article by Bruce Schneier in the current Crypt-o-Gram. I am pretty much whipped by the security theatre I now endure every time I go through an airport. How is it possible that the ninnies at DHS/TSA think we can be on “High” terror alert for 5 1/2 solid years?! From the article:

Since 9/11, we’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars defending ourselves from terrorist attacks. Stories about the ineffectiveness of many of these security measures are common, but less so are discussions of *why* they are so ineffective. In short: much of our country’s counterterrorism security spending is not designed to protect us from the terrorists, but instead to protect our public officials from criticism when another attack occurs. [emphasis mine]

And this:

And finally, we’re seeing CYA security on the national level, from our politicians. We might be better off as a nation funding intelligence gathering and Arabic translators, but it’s a better re-election strategy to fund something visible but ineffective, like a national ID card or a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.