Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Showing posts with label Real Estate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Real Estate. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A Housing Crash by Any Other Name

The Roscommon house eviction in Ireland is going viral on the Internet. *FOOTAGE* OVER 1000 PEOPLE PROTEST ROSCOMMON EVICTION (17 December 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Several reports and experts are predicting a huge meltdown of stocks, real estate, and bonds by 2019 or 2020. While we wait for global collapse and, as Kim Dotcom said, "buy crypto and gold," the question of how else to prepare for, and deal with, a huge crash becomes one of adjusting perspective.

More scary tweets from Kim Dotcom, who has been predicting an economic crash all year.

It starts with eroding property rights, headlined by a recent incident in Falsk, outside Strokestown, County Roscommon, Ireland on 16 December 2018. When Belgian KBC Bank hired Northern Irish security guards to evict a small family from a foreclosed farmhouse on Tuesday, 11 December, an armed gang of some twenty men assembled by the Sunday after the family had departed. Just after 5 o'clock in the morning, they attacked the bank's eight guards who had taken possession of the house with baseball bats. They burned out the security guards' four cars, injured their attack dog so badly it had to be put down, and left three guards in the hospital. It looks like the owners of the foreclosed house may shortly be reinstalled in their home.

This vigilantism was obviously the product of local and social media buzz building between last Tuesday and last Saturday. The townsfolk felt that the foreclosure was unnecessarily brutal and they also disliked the fact that the eviction was scheduled right before Christmas. It was inhumane. From The Irish Examiner:
"One man said: 'I felt sorry for the family because I knew them for years, I grew up beside them and I suppose like every family they did try their best. They should have been given time and there should be more people out at that gate.'

A woman said: 'It is shocking. You wouldn't throw an animal outside the door, they were treated like animals.' ...
Independent Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice claims up to 40 to 50 people are walking away from their homes because they are afraid of going through the court system. ... 'A lot of people are losing their home or a piece of land. We are dealing with too many cases, we’re trying to deal with the banks and the vulture funds,' he said."
The bank's hiring of Northern Irish mercenaries was the final straw. One Youtuber remarked: "this is a joke we need to have some balls like the French and yellow vest these orange bastards." Another commented:
"Eviction has a particular connotation, in Ireland, since famine times, and before. There is a visceral reaction to the concept, in the gut of every Irish person over a certain age. A horror of eviction is buried deep in our [psyche], and in our cultural memory. KBC bank clearly has no grasp of the cultural sensitivities in the matter, or cares less. I can't comment on the case details, because I don't know enough to do so. But there is always a right, and a wrong way, to approach every issue."

The aftermath of the Roscommon attack on the security guards who were hired by the KBC Bank to repossess a family's house. Anti Irish Bankster terror gang burnt out after stealing pensioner's home (16 December 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Roscommon Eviction Interview (16 December 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Black Friday and the Aesthetics of Fascism

Window-mounted cat beds, Amazon review: "It's been nine months and Tucker still loves this bed ten times more than anything else I've bought him." Image Source: Buzzfeed.

In North America, Thanksgiving weekend is the cornerstone of consumption-based capitalism. Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November, this year on November 22nd, followed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which have become pre-Christmas discounted shopping bonanzas. Stores are selling everything you could imagine, down to the window-mounted cat bed. This weekend is lucrative enough to tempt merchants in other countries to use the same gimmick to boost their fourth quarter sales.

Kohler Pedestal Sink. These sinks retail at Home Depot in the USA for USD $600-$800. Image Source: Miley Photos.

Essex Metal 24" Console Bathroom Sink with Overflow by Cheviot. Regular priced at Wayfair for CAD $830.25, on sale on Black Friday for CAD $584.99. Image Source: Cheviot.

Waldorf Ceramic 24" Wall Mount Bathroom Sink with Overflow by WS Bath Collections. Regular priced at Wayfair for CAD $1109.99, on sale on Black Friday for CAD $849.99. Image Source: homeclick.

This week, I saw some Black Friday examples which reminded me of an earlier commentary, Fascism at a Hairpin Turn. In a series of posts on this blog, I am considering how 1940s' fascism became a part of modern global culture in ways which are poorly understood. Above, are sinks by Kohler, Cheviot and WS Bath Collections. Kohler Co. was founded in Wisconsin in 1873 by Austrian Americans; it employs a sharp German aesthetic in its high end lavatory designs.

I was struck by the aesthetic similarity between today's sinks and 1940s' institutional sinks. Below, are sinks in an autopsy room and in another room from the French concentration camp near Strasbourg, Natzweiler-Struthof, where human experiments were conducted.

Sinks at Natzweiler-Struthof. Images Source: La Vie est Bonne.

Of course, sinks made outside fascist Europe in the 1940s would also resemble today's designs and their modernist style could be pre-World War II, derived from interwar Bauhaus. When I mentioned this similarity between past and present, my friend, C., said,
"The fascist aesthetic ... merged what ... [the fascists] wanted of [the] modern aesthetic (some aspects of architecture and NO aspect of the fine arts) and aspects of the neoclassic as well as empire styles, both of which were adopted as official styles by Napoleon's ... régime. ... Makes one think that everything that happened[,] including sinks, New York skyscrapers, and concentration camps were all a part of leaving the feudal system."
The Nazis definitely took that white porcelain neoclassical look and made it theirs. Going forward from 1945, there is no way a designer could be ignorant of that aesthetic reference when creating a consumer product in that style. This is why it was startling to see Nazi-esque sinks on sale on this Black Friday at Home Depot. I can't say that the example of the sinks proves anything in terms of demonstrable historical aesthetic lineage because I have not researched that. But it made me ask why and how that aesthetic has been absorbed into mainstream North American culture and values.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Millennial Extremes 14: Next Gen Tech and the Bering Strait Connection

Image Source: InterBering.

The blog is back after a break! Today's post is about a mega-project which illustrates how early generations of imperialists have passed to torch to Millennial globalists.

If the Channel Tunnel ignited the hopes of a European generation when it opened in 1994, the Bering Strait Tunnel is an engineering scheme which could similarly transform geopolitics and revolutionize transportation. The dedicated site, InterBering, expects "Tourists will be able to cross between the U.S. and Russia in just 15-20 minutes." The most colourful aspects of the plan include proposed five star hotels along the route:
"Where the tunnels pass under America's Krusenstern Island (Small Diomede), a railway station can be built allowing passengers elevator access to the island. A world-class hotel would provide them with a mid-Strait vista of the confluence of the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. A stay at this iconic hotel, along with a journey on the magnetic levitation train serving it, will become a tourist attraction in its own right. A similar facility can be created on Russia's neighboring Ratmanov Island (Big Diomede)."
Bering Strait Tunnel proposal. Image Source: InterBering.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2016: Urbex in Your Mind

Dan Bell explores an abandoned house, site of a tragic 1983 crime in Randallstown, Maryland, USA, when Craig Johnson decapitated his baby son, possibly while under the influence of drugs. (Video published 8 May 2015.) Video Source: Youtube.

For today, see some videos from American urban explorer Dan Bell, who visits abandoned properties and films them with camerawork and subtle editing reminiscent of horror movies. He is not a ghost hunter or paranormal believer; his interest merges the artistic with the historic to create unnerving video experiences on his Youtube channels (here and here). Beyond urban exploration, he could be an aspiring feature film director with an uncanny knack for locating disturbing places.

Above, a house outside Baltimore, site of a 1983 Christmas Day beheading of a child by a father. Some Youtubers dismiss Dan Bell's work as sensationalist; some like his added effects, including music from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980). All commenters debated whether the evil of the 1983 crime remained in the building; part of the Youtube experience involves their collaborative reactions:
  • "Here's what I found and Researched on the man named Steven Craig Johnson the Drug addict. A Baltimore-area man, who police say thought his son was Jesus Christ and had to die for the sins of the world, was denied bail Monday after being charged with first-degree murder in the decapitation of his 14-month-old boy.Baltimore County police said Stephen Johnson, 28, was charged with first-degree murder and held at police headquarters in Towson."
  • "Creepy music and a house slowly falling into ruin does NOT make a house evil. Sheesh. The PCP caused the man to hallucinate that his son was Jesus, and for whatever his drug-addled mind thought, the son wound up dead at the hand's of his own father. That was HUMAN EVIL ... not some house. PCP is evil!"
  • "You miss the point here. Dan Bells videos are his art and he obviously likes to bring horror movie elements to his videos. Its his point of view and a genre he has chosen. Its totally irrelevant weather the house truly is evil or not."
  • "Stories like this destroy the real estate market. Not Dan's fault. I'm glad that history leaks. I rent-to-own an apartment and when I had tile installed the tile company told me the place is contaminated. I got out of the contract. Two people were murdered in the bedroom and the carpet foam had blood in it. Now I know the patched up holes weren't picture holes. They were bullet holes."
  • "Both my parents died in our family home. They were in their 90's, on hospice and died peacefully. We did not have to declare it, nor did it ever occur to us that we should. The people who bought the house after a company bought the house seemed to get upset when I went over there and took them a framed artist's drawing of the house that I had had done for Daddy for Father's Day one year. I'm not sure how it came up in the conversation but I gave the man and his daughter a little history of the house. It was built by my grandfather for my grandmother, then she died and my parents bought it from him and they lived in it for almost their entire 71 year marriage. The man seemed shaken up that my parents died IN the house, so I wish I hadn't told him, but it's not like there was a murder. However, not long after that, the house disappeared. I asked the neighbors and they said a crane woke them up one morning and by noon, the house was gone. There doesn't even look like a house was ever even there. Very sad. I would have loved to have lived there, but I couldn't afford to buy out my sister's half."
  • "Another problem with this type of places is that when something like that happened in there (murder, witchcraft, playing with ouija), they're usually haunted, I had to move out of a house because of that shit."
  • "I wouldn't say its so much evil I would call it a complete wreck but the one odd thing that stood out to me if anyone else caught it. This house is in complete ruins with what looks like a brand new energy star hot water heater in the basement and the paint is still glossy while everything else is severely weathered. I don't think the house is as evil as the water heater."
  • "All those flies are a classic sign that the house is demon possessed. It's very dark and oppressive atmosphere. It's damp negative lowly energy. And it's perfectly clear that something is very very wrong. It takes a brave person to go into a place such as this, because it's facing our inner fears. A film or documentary would be interesting. Did any one hear voices on this footage? or were they part of the musical background? Thanks for sharing."

Occupant's keepsake, occult prop, or message from a previous visitor? The curious note next to remnants of a woman's dress, found in the Johnson closet, reads: "About luck thats good for us. I don’t know what made thy house evil, I only know that thee begs thy help of whatever within here can help with. Undo." Image Source: Dan Bell via BlumHouse.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

In Millennial Eyes 3: Abandoned Buildings, Left to Rot

Abandoned federal gold exchange bank, Part 1 (29 June 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

This post is the first of three - respectively on the economy, politics, and war - which describe how a negative Millennial history is emerging from disconnections between perception and reality. For today, see urbex explorer Josh wander through an abandoned bank, somewhere in America. It appears that this bank closed in the 1980s. To protect properties from vandals, Josh does not reveal names or locations of many of the places he visits. He does not remove anything from the sites, he only films and photographs them. You can see Josh and his friends explore dozens of abandoned sites in the USA and abroadhere.

Urban explorers are now poking through the wreckage of a transformed economy. That transformation depended on the 'virtualization' of property. Before 2007-2008, the economic value of property lay more in its assessed worth as a tangible historical object. During and after the Great Recession, the temporal perception of property changed to become a fleeting and mutable virtual investment, divorced from its actual physical condition and connection to society. The process started before that, but the recession was the hard turning point. In order to understand this change in terms of its long term consequences, it is important to separate the official story of the recession from the post-recession reality which urban explorers have uncovered.

Abandoned federal gold exchange bank, Part 2. Video Source: Youtube.

Although urbex is the new Millennium's historical pastime, the perspective is based on experience, unmediated by historical knowledge, except for a Google search or two. Information on abandoned properties is suppressed on the Internet to discourage vandals and scavengers. Urban explorers seek history out, independently of the way it has been presented to them in the system. Josh thanks all his viewers, "even the haters," who jeer at his lack of knowledge. While urban explorers may not always know the historical context through which they move, they discover many things their viewers do not yet know.

Urban exploration reveals how rapidly the present is becoming the past. For some, the late 20th century and early 21st century are too recent to be considered historical. Urbex videos indicate how time is accelerating in everyday life, and why the past is being discarded at an alarming rate. It is not a pretty picture. Urban explorers document a secret history of incredible losses, shameful waste, and a throwaway culture which appeared over the past thirty years. Abandoned buildings and infrastructure are monuments to materialism, property bubbles, recessions and bankruptcies. The economic shocks are one thing. But the wreckage also confirms a deeper anti-historical malaise. Urbex confirms the need to revitalize historical awareness.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 6: Mayan Dahlias

John Sowden House (at 5121 Franklin Avenue in the Los Feliz section of L.A.): "Old Hollywood glamour comes alive in Lloyd Wright's architectural masterpiece overlooking the best of Los Angeles shopping, dining, and nightlife." Image Source: Sowden House.

2012's Hallowe'en needs a Mayan theme, and today's Meso-American palace is just what the doctor ordered. I have done several posts on haunted real estate - here, here, here and here - and this article on House Hunting (the site annually posts an October list of the top ten American haunted houses currently for sale), reminded me of the John Sowden House in Los Angeles. House Hunting:
Designed by Lloyd Wright, the son of Frank Lloyd Wright, this 'Mayan Revival' styled home was the scene of the Black Dahlia murder. You read that right: decorated with artifacts that definitely came with evil spirits and the scene of an unsolved murder. The only thing this home is lacking: a good night's sleep for the sucker that buys it. Enjoy your Mayan death house.
This grim story is possibly true.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Photo of the Day: The Pool - with Cloisters

A privately-owned back yard on the edge of Palamós, in Girona Province, Spain, with hitherto unknown breath-taking architecture. Image Source: Medieval News.

Medieval News reports that a Spanish 12th century cloister, unlisted by the historical conservation authority, has been brought to public attention by a scholar in Italy (thanks to -S.):
An exceptional 12th-century cloister has been sitting for half a decade inside the garden of a private home in Girona province without anyone knowing about it, except its owners and a few locals. Gerardo Boto, a professor of medieval art at Girona University, unveiled the discovery at a recent Barcelona art convention, where he amazed Romanesque architecture experts with a detailed description of the find, which is already being compared to the monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos in Burgos. Most remarkably, it does not show up in any official inventory, nor does it enjoy cultural protection from any public agency. Click here to read this article from El Pais.
The owners have not given scholars permission to have access to the property. This is a good illustration of the ongoing tension between public and private, wherein private worlds can still preserve historical artifacts untouched for centuries, as in a time capsule. And public knowledge has not extended absolutely everywhere, yet.

See all my posts on Real Estate.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

International Space Law and the Fine Art of Thinking Ahead

The Space Review has an intriguing article this week about space law.  Three things crossed author Michael Listner's radar. First, the Moon Treaty has not been ratified by big space-faring powers, such as the USA, Russia or China. However, in the last few months it has been ratified by countries with minor or non-existent space programs. By ratifying the Moon Treaty, these states lend this agreement weight.  They also thereby proclaim their future space race intentions, and potentially make space powers beholden to non-space powers. The article focuses on Austria and Turkey:
Coupled with the growing influence of countries such as Austria, Turkey’s accession to the Moon Treaty will give the accord strength not so much in terms of individual political strength, but through political strength in numbers. As those numbers grow, the “Big Three” could find that their influence as non-parties of the Moon Treaty will be challenged by a chorus of many smaller nations who are parties.
Second, these moves by smaller space, or would-be-space, nations call into question the Moon Treaty's potential as a piece of international law.

This question is equally raised by some individuals out there with money to burn, who have been launching lawsuits to assert their claims to pieces of extra-terrestrial real estate. In some cases, they sue for compensation now when they feel that a breach of their legal claim to space property rights has been (or perhaps will be) violated by some space-faring power:
The latest example occurred in the Canadian Province of Quebec where the litigant, Sylvio Langvein, petitioned the District Court of Quebec concerning property claims he asserted for extraterrestrial property including several planets, the space in between them and the Moon. Specifically, Mr. Langvien petitioned the Court for separate judgments for each of his property claims with the intention of preventing China from establishing stations in outer space above him. 

The February 22, 2012, judgment goes on to imply that the “quarrelsome litigant”, which is a term used by the Honorable Alain Michaud, JSC to describe Mr. Langvein, used the Canadian judicial system at many levels to pursue 21 claims for relief since 2001. The judgment further notes that Mr. Langvein listed no respondent, i.e. who he was suing, who could respond to claims for relief. Moreover, the judgment essentially claims that Mr. Langvein is paranoid and that his actions were an abuse of the Canadian legal system.
I hand it to Mr. Langevein for originality as far as blowing cash goes. According to The Space Review, this kind of case could cause problems for the Moon Treaty because Canada is a non-member. But the decisions of its domestic courts - or any other non-member's domestic courts - have a bearing on the Treaty. Decisions in these cases will determine whether the Moon Treaty is binding international law or not, for all nations, whether or not they have ratified it.

Meanwhile, in another example that could affect the Moon Treaty, one American company, Space Pioneers LLC, is already selling bits of the moon to interested members of the public. Their motto is: Make a Ripple in TimeBecome a Space Pioneer.  They are now locking horns in court with the Better Business Bureau:
Jeffrey Sablotne, who is the principal owner of Space Pioneers LLC, feels the best way to move man’s foray into outer space forward is through the sale of “Derivative Conveyance Deeds” for lunar real estate. While it sounds suspicious on the surface, Mr. Sablotne says he and his partners have done 20 years of research and have recorded numerous claims. However, the president of the Arkansas Chapter of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which had previously invited and approved Sablotne’s company to join the BBB, reportedly commented on their website that Mr. Sablotne’s business and offer of deeds to lunar property is a scam. Mr. Sablotne’s responded to the BBB’s actions and requested that the BBB remove the statement and file a retraction. The request was refused and Mr. Sablotne filed a defamation suit against the BBB.
These kinds of examples are, for now, merely entertaining, although international space law is a burgeoning field. But there will be a point when space exploration will advance significantly and the number of space-faring nations and companies will multiply - and so will space lawyers, space courts and space lawsuits.

-All long quotations in this post are from the above-cited Space Review article.

See all my posts on Real Estate.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Particle Collider Real Estate

Image Source: Ghost Hunting Theories.

Here is a loss the US government is not discussing as the Great Recession drags on, amid tedious political finger-pointing about how to invest properly in the economy. At Ghost Hunting Theories, Autumnforest recently reported on an unused Particle Collider that is up for sale for $6.5 million in Waxahachie, Texas. She writes: "Do you want 135 acres of Texas real estate complete with a 20-year-old facility built with the future hope of being a particle accelerator but never got completed? There are 8 buildings and 14 miles of underground tunnels. How much did your government spend on this debacle? A cool $2 billion." Before the recession, the facility was appraised as having a saleable value of $20 million, but the real estate market has hit it hard. (More reports: here, here and here.)

Here's the Real Estate announcement from Newmark Knight Frank, Global Real Estate Advisors:
SUPERCONDUCTING SUPER COLLIDER Located about 30 miles south of Dallas, Texas, the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) is a scientific complex that was once a profoundly expensive dream of the U.S. Department of Energy in the late 1980's to house the world's largest and highest energy particle accelerator and its supporting facilities. Plans for the SSC included a proposed 54 miles of underground tunnels that would extend and eventually encircle the town of Waxahachie, Texas and also comprise approximately 213,000 square feet in supporting facilities, buildings and infrastructure improvements. Its approximate 135 acre site located west of Waxahachie was to be totally self-sufficient and self-sustaining. Construction of the multi-billion project began in 1991, but was subsequently halted in October 1993 due to spiraling estimated costs to complete (more than doubling to over $8 billion) and U.S. budget concerns. At the time of the project's cancellation, approximately $800 million had been spent to improve the site, complete the supporting facilities, and finish approximately 14 miles of the proposed tunnels. SSC is now for sale on an "as-is, where-is" basis. Hunt Ventures, advisor for the ownership entity, will be responsive to all credible offers. Offers without any or only minimal contingencies will receive strong consideration.
Wired  reported on this facility in 2009.  In the 1980s, the Texas site was conceived to house the biggest particle accelerator in the world. Congress yanked the funding in 1993, ensuring that the world's biggest particle collider - and the future of scientific research in this field, with its vast potential for cheap energy sources as well as an array of commercial and defense applications - would end up in Europe at CERN. If there is one area of science that could change everything in our future, and is the basis of the whole Tech Revolution through which we are currently living, it is particle physics. There is a short history of particle accelerators, once called 'atom smashers,' here at Wiki.

This is a classic example of politicians viewing scientific matters through ideological lenses, and mucking up long term projects that they don't understand. Wired has another related report here, entitled the 'Last Days of Big American Physics.'  In February 2011, the American government denied funding to the Fermilab accelerator near Chicago, which, despite the existence of smaller US colliders that do different things, undermines US competitiveness in this field; Fermilab closed its Tevatron collider permanently in September 2011.  As with NASA's ending the Space Shuttle program due to government cuts, there has been a serious crisis in American confidence with regard to the government's footing the huge bills for global-level scientific advances. 

But the alternative - Big Business going it alone - is not so great, either. The problem remains that private companies cannot fund this level of research by themselves because it is so expensive.  And if private companies grow enough to be able to do so, we will face corporate conglomerates of the kind that were featured in Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy: business entities that are as powerful, or much, much more powerful, than nation-states or even groups of nation-states. It's worth contemplating that this alternative of unfettered corporations would likely spell the end of modern civic freedoms and governmental democracy in technologically advanced societies; as anyone who has read an employer's regulations manual knows, the internal legal principles that determine corporate governance and day-to-day management have few pretensions about being democratic.

Then there is the state-industrial mix. Is the current model of government-industrial cooperation, which ensures these endeavours, all that great?  Not really.  There is a sticky, predictably nasty politicized debate around Big Government and Big Science, with typical discussions here and hereThe more science and tech advances we see in this century, the more the power, money and authority required to drive them will likely reflect a hybrid public-private model for Public Administration and Management. In time, that new model will potentially provide a whole new legal foundation of government. This is why it is worth keeping an eye on changing currents in Public Admin theory, you know, just in case we end up electing armies of public-corporate management consultants, government contractors and business administrators instead of actual representatives and legislators. The book excerpt below concerns one of these burgeoning Millennial grey areas. It is taken from S. P. Osbourne, The New Public Governance?: Emerging Perspectives on the Theory and Practice of Public Governance (Routledge 2010). This excerpt concerns a template of public-private hybridization over big research and investment projects; that template involves public contracts with private companies in the US Military and in the famous example of the Challenger disaster.

Source: Googlebooks.

For now, as far as giant colliders are concerned, the US is playing catch-up.  There are reports from late December 2011 that a new particle accelerator is being built in Batavia, Illinois, with US government funding (see here, here and here). It is due to be completed in 2013 or 2014.

Construction of new accelerator, Illinois, 16 December 2011. Image Source: Jeff Cagle/Sun-Times Media via Napierville Sun-Times.

As for the Texas facility, there are reports that its collider tunnels have been filled with water. See more images of the Texas accelerator facility from Wired below the jump (all photos below are by Jim Merithew/Wired.com). There are pictures of the site when it still had its equipment, here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hallowe'en Countdown 6: Haunted Real Estate

The entrance to Joan Rivers' Upper East Side haunted condo. Image Source: Examiner.

Skeptical evaluation of the paranormal may come from the odd angle of professionals who are obliged to contend with rumours of the paranormal in the course of their jobs. Consider real estate agents and landlords or landladies. If the law obliged them to disclose hauntings on a property to buyers or renters, it might be tantamount to legal recognition of the supernatural.  But the law doesn't quite do that. Even if real estate agencies required their agents, as part of their code of conduct, to acknowledge paranormal reports from previous occupants, that would constitute recognition of ghosts within a professional context.

But dealing with allegedly haunted properties is one of the hazards of the profession.  So what happens legally or professionally when a seller, estate agent, or landlord has an allegedly haunted property on their hands?  For a long time, the simple legal rule of thumb was simply caveat emptor - let the buyer beware.

What if the previous occupant openly acknowledges ghostly activity?  My post on celebrity hauntings includes a link to a television interview with Joan Rivers, who discussed the haunting of her New York apartment by a deceased relative of J. P. Morgan.  Rivers tried to sell the apartment in 2009-2010 for $25 million (see reports here, here, here, here and the gallery of photos of the penthouse here). It looks like it is now no longer available. In this case, the law acknowledges the impact of public rumours of the paranormal upon the integrity of the real estate deal and upon the value of the property.  This is an example of what is legally and professionally called 'stigmatized property.'

Thursday, November 18, 2010

There Goes the Virtual Neighbourhood

The medieval walled town of Carcassonne, France. Image: ©2009 Julie Galante/This non-American Life.  Reproduced with kind permission.

The internet is a fickle mistress.  Virtual real estate that is hot property one minute becomes an online ghost town the next.  Communities on the Web are impossibly new, but they already operate like walled medieval villages, with their internal rules, pecking orders, varying systems of etiquette and collective psychologies.  They follow life cycles that seem to last about 5-7 years, and those periods of online vitality are getting shorter all the timeThe Chronicle for Higher Education recently reported on university computing administrators who are mulling over the drop in popularity of Second Life.   Not long ago after its establishment in 2003, Second Life became the virtual interactive suite, where people were setting up shops, having affairs, and, in the case of the administrators, building virtual campuses.  Besides the fact that the administrators' target audience - potential undergraduate recruits - congregate elsewhere online, part of what's soured the administrators' opinion is that Linden Lab has upped its rents.  From the Chronicle report: "Anaheim, Calif.—Officials at one discussion session here at the Educause conference yesterday spent an hour debating whether or not they should relocate their campuses—taking all the buildings, quads, and people and carefully moving them elsewhere. The focus of the session was virtual worlds, and the academics were discussing whether to take their virtual campuses out of Second Life in protest, after the company that runs the online environment announced the end of a generous education discount."  Second Life's main competitor at the moment is Utherverse (homepage here), which was launched in 2010.