Monday, March 20, 2006

Stunning Figures...

OK - the amount of money being spent on the Iraq War is astounding - but - the numbers are awesome and difficult to grasp... they end up being abstract to most people (including me).

So, I decided to try putting the cost into more understandable terms.

Therefore, I envisioned selling off entire blocks of residential Philadelphia neighborhoods as a way to fund the war!

Apparently, the stated figure to run the war is 195 million dollars a day... that's $195,000,000.

I researched the median housing value in Philadelphia - it's $57,000, but I bumped that up to $65,000 to account for the housing boom.

Philadelphia is approximately 135 square miles in size, and each square mile holds approximately 144 city blocks (12 x 12 blocks of the numbered streets, which have smaller streets between them). This makes for about 19,440 blocks. The blocks have about 174 houses each on them (I counted blocks on Google Maps satellite photos to be sure) - this is accounting for houses on the smaller streets - giving Philadelphia approximately 3,382,560 addresses.

At the median housing cost, a block of Philadelphia residential real estate is valued at about $11,310,000.

We'd need to liquidate 17 blocks of Philadelphia real estate each day to fund the war.

That's 121 blocks of Philadelphia each week.

Or 523 blocks (3.5 square miles) of Philadelphia each month.

Or 6,276 blocks (43.5 square miles) of Philadelphia a year.

Let's pause a minute - in a year, we would sell off 1/3 of Philadelphia to fund the war.

We've been at war for three years. In our scenario, Philly is gone! Nobody home! All bought-up and closed down! A ghost town! Just stray dogs and cats! Let's start on Pittsburgh, or Boston next!

(Washington DC would have been sold off in the first year... some would say it already has been!)

I hope this helps to put the war cost into perspective. My God, it must be a great time to be in the defense contractor biz.

(Please feel free to correct my figures - I'll revise my spreadsheet with the best available information!)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Tigerbeat Nostalgia...

Yes, it's Leif Garrett, at age seventeen, and again at age fourty-four.

Granted, few people really have the opportunity to tidy up for their mugshot, but man this is depressing.

Understand this: I'm not one to make light of other's misfortunes - and that's not what this is about. I am just genuinely surprised at the, uh, transformation that time can produce.

On the plus side, Leif's Official Website - - is much more upbeat, and has photos of Leif in the Gallery section that look a hell of a lot better (thank God!)... but he (and I) are of the age where certain people develop a certain "shine" to the top of their heads. Some people (like me) acknowledge and embrace it. Others choose to wear lots of hats and bandanas. To each his own.

In the end, I suppose Leif has always been kind of a nice guy, and it's good to know he's still around and in the biz - not that I listen to any of his records, but constancy can be a comfort, even if it's not always in the "looks" department.

Luckily, if you want to check-in on Leif yourself, you can get his music from the iTunes music store - his latest release is "Betty Ford for Christmas" by Leif Garrett & The Crush Ups. He also contributed a vocal track on the Melvins "Crybaby" album in 2000. (Yes, he's got other records too - just check his website!)

You can also visit Leif's online store to purchase apparel and housewares. I am very tempted to buy a Leif Garrett trucker cap - it's so cryptic, the cool factor shoots through the roof.