This may sound familiar

Fleck isn’t sanguine on real estate either:

8.5% of mortgages taken out last year nationally were taken out by people who did not plan to live in these houses. That’s up from 5.8% in 2000. Knowing how rough these data are, my guess is it’s probably even higher. And it’s contrary to what our esteemed bubble-blowing Fed chairman says about real estate not lending itself to a bubble because it’s not fungible and people have to live somewhere.

So, at least 8.5% of the market is buying simply because prices are going up — the very definition of a bubble mentality. In addition, the fact that prices are going up and people are chasing them distorts the very market that underlies the speculative boom — another classic symptom of a mania. (For a general background on bubbles, read a speech I gave on the topic.

I’d like to say great minds think alike, but Bill Fleckenstein is leagues beyond me when it comes to investing. Still, people can’t say they weren’t warned.

The question is Smoot

Cornerback Fred Smoot, the top coverage defender still remaining in the unrestricted free agent pool, has reached a contract agreement in principle with the Minnesota Vikings, a move that will further bolster a defense that statistically ranked 28th in the league overall during the 2004 season.

The four-year veteran cornerback, who had played his entire career with the Washington Redskins, is the second high-profile free agent acquired by the Vikings in the past week. Minnesota signed former Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Pat Williams last week

Trying to build through free agency makes me nervous, but the Vikes are making some very sound moves this offseason. They’re not overpaying for big veteran names, but are signing good young guys that have the potential to provide a sound defensive core. Even without Randy Moss, the Vikings should be able to be very competitive with an average defense, and if Smoot – who was arguably better than Champ Bailey in Washington two years ago – can overperform like Antoine Winfield did last year, the Vikes shouldn’t have too much trouble beating out Green Bay for the NFC North.

Have they improved enough to knock off Philadelphia? Not yet. But if someone teaches Mike Tice to run the ball instead of getting cute when playing running-challenged defenses, (or if Tice is brought down by his little ticket scalping operation), the potential is arguably there. I would have preferred to see them sign Derek Mason, but Rod Gardner would make for an excellent addition. Plaxico Burress is interesting, but too expensive considering his past underperformance. Then again, having a quarterback who can actually throw the ball might make a real difference for him.

I think Burress would be insane to go to the Giants, (having my doubts about the whinier of the two Mannings), and if he chooses a bigger payday over a playoff contender, then he’s probably not the sort of competitor you’d want in the first place. All in all, things aren’t looking too bad for the Purple and Gold.

Let’s go, Gunners

‘But although people keep on talking about Thierry Henry, it won’t be Thierry Henry against Bayern Munich, it will be Arsenal against Bayern Munich.

“It’s a team game, not a one-man show.” [said Henry] “If Lauren had not given me that amazing cross against Portsmouth last Saturday, I would not have scored our first goal. I always say that without my team, I am nothing. The only player I have seen winning games on his own was Diego Maradona, even scoring with his hands! I do not remember anyone else taking a team from the beginning to the end and making them win, like at the 1986 World Cup, where he played on his own.”

While Dennis Bergkamp has always been my favorite Gunner, it’s hard not to like the attitude of Arsenal’s biggest star. Unlike the thugs of Manchester United – fans, players and manager alike – Arsenal plays like a team, with beautiful, selfless passing that is effective as it is attractive to watch. While the European soccer leagues have a tremendous amount to learn from the NFL in terms of how to run a league profitably with maximum competitiveness, there’s a lot of US athletes who would do well to learn from Henry’s example that in a team sport, you cannot have true success without putting the team first.

With regards to tonight, two goals at Highbury against Bryan Munich is tough, but by no means impossible. Not with Henry, Bergkamp and Pires all getting back into action.

Note – Any socialists seeking to make a larger point of this might do well to note that a national economy is not a sports team, and life is not a game.

Blowing up Jamie

That reminds me, Vox, 200 pounds on my first set of bench now: 10 reps, no spot. 210 with a spot towards the end. I’ve regained a fair bit of my old strength and size. So you’re doing, what, 225 first set?

Actually, I’ve been going pretty light for the last two months after injuring my hand. I need to get some neoprene gloves with better padding before I go back to lifting anything in the 300 range. Space Bunny has me doing supersets in order to cut up a bit, so on the bench I’m doing four sets of 10-12 at 195 followed immediately by 10-15 flies at 40.

Since I switched to the Perfect Aryan Male’s program, I’ve actually only done two sets of six at 225 for starters. (Following a warmup at 135, of course.) What you’re probably remembering is the two sets of 10 at 225 at the end to rep out.

But since soccer starts soon, I’ll probably stick to Space Bunny’s program for the nonce. It’s impossible to keep your strength up with all that running around.