Posted by: The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

33 responses to “Weekly Twitter Digest (Link Roundup) for 2011-08-27”

  1. Kary L. Krismer

    There’s a townhouse style condo project up in south Snohomish county where they brought in prefab units to construct it maybe 5-10 years ago. You’d never guess it by looking at it, except each unit has a little metal tag on the front, as if it were a mobile home. The units are side by side, with a garage and an upper floor which doesn’t touch the upper floor of the next door units (the first floor with the garage is wider than the second floor).

    This possible new project is just an expansion of that type of thinking.

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  2. Scotsman

    Re: Zillow:

    “CEO Spencer Rascoff said that he doesn’t think the real estate industry will hit bottom until 2012.

    “We are certainly closer to the end of the housing recession, then the beginning.”

    I’ll bet he’s wrong on both counts.

    Why does zillow as a $billion dollar company remind me of the last tech boom? And Spencer- it’s “than,” not “then.”

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  3. softwarengineer

    We Need a Completely New Paradign On the Allegation We Must All Get College Degrees Now; This Wishful Thinking is a Complete Joke

    Hades, in a lion’s share of the cases, the only ones working are the teachers in tech schools and colleges, not the graduates….there’s simply no jobs for them

    Article:
    “…It is absurd that people have to get college degrees to be considered for good jobs in hotel management or accounting — or journalism. It is inefficient, both because it wastes a lot of money and because it locks people who would have done good work out of some jobs. The tight connection between college degrees and economic success may be a nearly unquestioned part of our social order. Future generations may look back and shudder at the cruelty of it.

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1967580,00.html

    The cost of the excessive toxic college loans, doing us little or no good [except putting the youth and their families in debt], are ahead of us like hurricane Irene.

    The highly sucessful 767 was developed mostly with technicals educated from our local Seattle area community colleges [then paid a livable wage by Boeing too], with a much smaller percentage of degreed engineers checking the stress analysis. I’m a degreed engineer and admit it. Conversely, the 787 still hasn’t been delivered yet [with several years of delays] and its “world class” [?????] outsourced manufacturing is a complete joke, IMO.

    Time to go back to “Yankee Ingenuity”, it worked.

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  4. ARDELL

    RE: softwarengineer @ 3

    When I started working the emphasis was on specific college courses directed at a specialized field vs “a college degree”. As I recall, the change to “a degree” in “whatever” didn’t take place until around 1984ish.

    I’m surprised that success stories like Bill Gates “Harvard’s Most Successful Dropout” and Steve Jobs “from college dropout to Apple Visionary, did not change people’s thinking on the importance of a “degree”. Maybe it has and people just aren’t talking about it?

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  5. MichaelB

    RE: ARDELL @ 4

    And what percentage of white collar employees at Microsoft and Apple have college degrees? Today most American kids aren’t well prepared for college. College and High School dropout rates are a huge problem.

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  6. ARDELL

    RE: MichaelB @ 5

    Most that I’ve met don’t have collars, were educated outside of the US and as a result don’t have huge college debt. But that’s likely because many of my Microsoft and google clents are firm India or Europe or other faraway places. Replace Apple with Google…I’ve never met someone from Apple.

    I wonder if there is a breakdown of where their employees are “from” for each major tech company?

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  7. Pegasus

    RE: ARDELL @ 4 – We are a nation of sheep. The vast majority of Americans do things because it is the “thing to do”. We go to college, get married , have kids, buy a house, buy fancy cars, vote idiots into office over and over again, live with a cell phone implanted in our ears while babbling endlessly. The list goes on. Only a few are able to deviate from this predetermined lifestyle. The few that do are only able to deviate from a few of the things on the “proper” list. The sixties was all about fighting the establishment and the “list”. Where did that get us? Nowhere. Baaa, baaa!

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  8. ARDELL

    RE: Pegasus @ 7

    The push for all to have “a degree” came during the last recession. I think that was to move the “unemployed” to “student” to help with the unemployment numbers. It also helped “grow” the economy from the standpoint of more debt to pay the tuition. It was a combination of efforts.

    I don’t think anyone ever thought it was about the people actually needing the degrees.

    Most very angry people I come across are those who didn’t realize the change was based on economics and not about “them”. The resultant anger of many who bought into that message, left with no high paying job and mountains of debt, is widespread.

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  9. Cheap South

    When I went to Mt Rainier on early July, the place was packed with Indians and Chinese. After about an hour in the park, my cousin said: “Microsoft must be hiring”. And these were three generation families.

    A couple of months ago, Garrison Keillor did A prairie home companion from the Chateau St. Michelle grounds in Woodinville. He joked about all the foreign looking people walking around the Eastside speaking “code”.

    Now, are they here training or to stay?

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  10. Scotsman

    Just got back from a week in New England taking the daughter off to school. Drove up to Maine to explore and found some of the nicest prefabs I’ve seen- indistinguisable from regular stick built homes. Many were two stories with normal roof pitches (low roofs seem to be a dead give away) and no visable signs of sections being joined, etc. I’ve never seen anything like them, and wouldn’t hesitate to buy if they fit my situation. No idea on the pricing, but there they sat on a sales lot ready to go.

    Prefab can make a lot of sense, but the builders I’ve seen around here need to close the gap between looking like a normal home and some cheap substitute. Standardization can save a lot of money but more effort needs to be put into the design up front.

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  11. MichaelB

    RE: ARDELL @ 6

    Ardell, how many of your Google and Microsoft friends are college graduates? I’m guessing all of them except for Bill Gates….

    See A Theory of Everything (Sort Of) By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

    Published: August 13, 2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/opinion/sunday/Friedman-a-theory-of-everyting-sort-of.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=grinnell&st=cse

    “…Thanks to cloud computing, robotics, 3G wireless connectivity, Skype, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, the iPad, and cheap Internet-enabled smartphones, the world has gone from connected to hyper-connected. This is the single most important trend in the world today. And it is a critical reason why, to get into the middle class now, you have to study harder, work smarter and adapt quicker than ever before. All this technology and globalization are eliminating more and more “routine” work — the sort of work that once sustained a lot of middle-class lifestyles.

    The merger of globalization and I.T. is driving huge productivity gains, especially in recessionary times, where employers are finding it easier, cheaper and more necessary than ever to replace labor with machines, computers, robots and talented foreign workers. It used to be that only cheap foreign manual labor was easily available; now cheap foreign genius is easily available.

    This explains why corporations are getting richer and middle-skilled workers poorer. Good jobs do exist, but they require more education or technical skills…At little Grinnell College in rural Iowa, with 1,600 students, “nearly one of every 10 applicants being considered for the class of 2015 is from China.” The article noted that dozens of other American colleges and universities are seeing a similar surge as well. And the article added this fact: Half the “applicants from China this year have perfect scores of 800 on the math portion of the SAT.”

    Ardell, it’s not that a university education isn’t useful, it’s just that a degree isn’t enough – you need a an excellent education +++

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  12. Joe LeBlanc

    Most of the Indian and Chinese “white collar” software engineers at MSFT have masters degrees from US colleges. I’d say about half of them have US undergrad degrees, and half from foreign schools. Regardless of what you think of the H1B situation and the industry’s need for talent, the fact is that we are able to hire more people with an MS in Comp Sci. or Comp Eng. degrees from foreign countries than we are from the US. There just aren’t as many Masters students who aren’t from a foreign country. Also, I would never say that being Indian or Chinese makes you any more or less qualified or capable. Anyone who claims that Indian folks at MSFT are simply there because it’s cheaper to hire an H1B has *no* idea what they’re talking about. Your salary is not tied to your visa or immigration status. There are over 2B people between India and China from which to pull high quality engineering candidates, and 250M in the US… do the math.

    Also, I don’t know of anyone getting hired at MSFT without a degree, unless they have at least a few years of industry experience. I’m an “industry hire” with no degree, but good previous work experience, working on the same level with “college hires” with BS or MS degrees and maybe no prior job experience. But being a HS dropout getting a job at a company like MSFT without proving yourself in the industry (or tech community) first is so rare that it’s barely worth mentioning, and the standards for people like that are VERY high.

    @Cheap South: the vast majority of Indian or Chinese professionals on the Eastside are here to say, not simply training, in my experience.

    (disclaimer: I’m a manager at Microsoft, but none of these opinions are necessarily the company’s)

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  13. ARDELL

    RE: MichaelB @ 11

    That 800 on their Math reminded me of my sister…but I don’t think that was about her excellent education. Could have been…but I don’t think so.

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  14. Sweet Pea

    RE: Cheap South @ 9

    They are here to stay. Many of them are my neighbors. Amazon has the same practices. Our flagship employers here manufacture and/or sell goods made in China, and import much of their intellectual labor from outside the U.S. Many of the people coming into the U.S. are from a class already well-off in their home countries. It’s certainly a bright future we are building for ourselves.

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  15. Sweet Pea

    By softwarengineer @ 3:

    Article:
    “…It is absurd that people have to get college degrees to be considered for good jobs in hotel management or accounting â�� or journalism. It is inefficient, both because it wastes a lot of money and because it locks people who would have done good work out of some jobs. The tight connection between college degrees and economic success may be a nearly unquestioned part of our social order. Future generations may look back and shudder at the cruelty of it.

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1967580,00.html

    Time to go back to “Yankee Ingenuity”, it worked.

    There is a fairly large difference in the education needed to be a bookkeeper and a CPA. I would definitely agree, however, that the 5th year education requirement for a CPA license is simply another weed-out tactic, to increase the value of the license for people who already held it, and make it more expensive for those trying to get it. I have not noticed any difference in the qualifications of people with a “masters” in accounting. Just the idea planted in their brain that it means they have something worth more.

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  16. CCG

    By Scotsman @ 2:

    Re: Zillow:

    “CEO Spencer Rascoff said that he doesnâ��t think the real estate industry will hit bottom until 2012.

    â��We are certainly closer to the end of the housing recession, then the beginning.”

    I’ll bet he’s wrong on both counts.

    Agree. When Uncle Thug stops propping up house prices, waging war on savers, and otherwise distorting every market in sight, then we’ll be getting closer to the end. Until then:
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/report-at-this-point-most-americans-feel-more-comf,21190/?utm_source=recentnews

    And the college bubble is indeed different from the subprime bubble. You can’t default on your student loan debt even if you’re willing to give the degree back. Eventually we’ll get an administration who realizes they’d rather see that money spent on iCrap from China (just as they already have with all those deadbeat mortgages) and it’ll be “canceled”. Then of course we’ll all pay for the bailouts of the banks who held it, mostly through more inflation.

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  17. Kary L. Krismer

    By Pegasus @ 7:

    – We are a nation of sheep. The vast majority of Americans do things because it is the “thing to do”. We go to college, get married , have kids, buy a house, buy fancy cars, vote idiots into office over and over again, live with a cell phone implanted in our ears while babbling endlessly. The list goes on. Only a few are able to deviate from this predetermined lifestyle. The few that do are only able to deviate from a few of the things on the “proper” list. The sixties was all about fighting the establishment and the “list”. Where did that get us? Nowhere. Baaa, baaa!

    I would agree with all of that, except now you hold your cell phone in front of your face. Try to keep up with the times! ;-)

    As someone in their early 50s, who remembers the turmoil of the 60s but was not yet even a teenager, I’m extremely disappointed with the then young leaders of that period. They seemingly all sold out and are little different than those they were complaining about. Listening to some of the protest songs of the era (e.g. Graham Nash, Steppenwolf, etc.), just makes me sad. A lot was accomplished in the area of civil rights, but beyond that a lot is the same.

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  18. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Sweet Pea @ 14 – The MBA is the most over-rated degree in the world.

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  19. Kary L. Krismer

    By CCG @ 15:

    And the college bubble is indeed different from the subprime bubble. You can’t default on your student loan debt even if you’re willing to give the degree back..

    I don’t recall what, if any, changes they made with the last Bankruptcy Act amendments regarding the discharge of student loan debt, but it’s always been a very tough hardship standard. I remember one reported decision where the debtor and creditor were stipulating that there was a hardship and that the debt should be discharged, but the court refused to sign off on it! As I recall, the person didn’t even make enough money to be able to not life at his/her parents, but the court said there was no evidence that they would have to move out of their parent’s house.

    To me the rise in student loan debt is just another symptom of politicians spending too much money on things. They keep adding more and more programs that cost money, and seldom drop existing programs. What that has done is squeeze the money available for eduction, and required steep tuition increases. Back in the 60s the in-state tuition for California was probably $0.00 a quarter, and the in-state tuition in Washington probably under $100 a quarter. Government saw education as an investment in society, so they picked up most of the cost.

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  20. Macro Investor

    RE: MichaelB @ 11

    You missed the point Michael. Nobody is saying college is worthless. College just isn’t for everyone. What’s changed the last 20 years is people who struggled through high school are spending big bucks going to college, instead of learning a specific job skill. It’s better to apprentice in something than to get a worthless degree. You have to research what you’re going to get out of it instead of just blindly following some script.

    Just my opinion… if you can’t handle heavy math, science or engineering it may be better to go through job training. Most of the other degrees people go into are worthless. A big one nowadays for girls is fashion merchandising, which is a scam.

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  21. Macro Investor

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 16

    You got conned. The young leaders of the 60s just wanted to avoid being shot in Viet Nam. Once gov learned to stop drafting people into their geo political games, the protest movement lost it’s purpose.

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  22. David Losh

    RE: Macro Investor @ 20

    Not so.

    White people are so funny. They think the world revolves around them. The 1960s was a Civil Rights movement. Black voter registration, and integration were the goals. Today we have a black President.

    The Viet Nam war was white people business.

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  23. Blurtman

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 17 – When you can get drafted and sent to a disastrously managed and unecessary war in Asia, you might tend to get up off the barcalounger and protest. Without Vietnam as a catalyst, I wonder if the ’60’s would have been quite the same.

    And the hippy dippy idealism of youth quickly fades away with the responsibilites and compromises that come with raising a family. “Selling out” and getting “co-opted” by the system, lured by the flashy Lexus and mega mansion. Money, power and status that can be attained as youth and beauty fades away.

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  24. Kary L. Krismer

    RE: Blurtman @ 23RE: Macro Investor @ 21 – I would agree Vietnam was the catalyst for much of the protesting–it’s just too bad it didn’t lead to more.

    And maybe I was conned, but being only 10 I’ll accept that. I wonder though how many people 18-30 were also conned?

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  25. softwarengineer

    Great Blogs by All on the Toxic College Loan Bubble

    I’d sum it up, the defenders of using insourced foreign workers rarely talk about the hoards of unemployed technicals in America and infer they’re “not qualified”. Besides the verbal allegation, where’s the proof? Like a tech product they invented that we couldn’t possibly invent or train much quicker to its knowledge anyway with far better English and yankee cultural assimilaltion skills in America?

    The bottom line, they wouldn’t be insourcing our replacements from abroad if they’re paying them the same as us….and we all know they aren’t.

    Accepting this status quo mess as acceptable is like being comfortable on the Titanic. The results of more insourcing in America today are lower skilled wages [in general], far more legal citizen unemployed [the voters] and a ludicrous college education toxic loan bubble.

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  26. ARDELL

    RE: Joe LeBlanc @ 12

    “@Cheap South: the vast majority of Indian or Chinese professionals on the Eastside are here to say, not simply training, in my experience.”

    Agree.

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  27. ARDELL

    Joe LeBlanc said: “There are over 2B people between India and China from which to pull high quality engineering candidates, and 250M in the US… do the math.”

    Is there much of a market for U.S Citizens to gain employment outside of the U.S.? What field of endeavor would = better potential for a U.S. Citizen to be hired outside of the U.S. and where? Anyone have any experience with that?

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  28. CCG

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 18:

    RE: Sweet Pea @ 14 – The MBA is the most over-rated degree in the world.

    I’m re-reading Nassim Taleb’s “Fooled By Randomness” right now. He has an MBA himself and does a hilarious job of eviscerating the mythology.

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  29. Sweet Pea

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 18:

    RE: Sweet Pea @ 14 – The MBA is the most over-rated degree in the world.

    This isn’t an MBA, it’s a step below, only one year (not accelerated), and usually called an MAcc.

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  30. Joe LeBlanc

    RE: ARDELL @ 27 – For people new to the job market? Not much, really. If you have experience, especially with people or project management, then working for companies in other countries who are working on projects with US companies can be a good gig. I don’t know much about other industries where education is required (bio-med maybe?) but in the technology space I don’t think there’s much. Or you can go to most Asian counties and teach english, but that won’t pay off your student loans.

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  31. ARDELL

    RE: Joe LeBlanc @ 30

    Have only one friend who is doing U.S. Defense Department contract work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Apparently it pays better than anything who could get here since 2008 or so. He does have a degree, but it’s in Art/Marketing and I don’t think that is what he is doing over there.

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  32. Jo-Pete Neson

    RE: ARDELL @ 27

    I know a few US citizens who work in various industries in other countries. Usually they get the job because they speak the foreign language fluently and have some other marketable skill and usually the job includes some type of interface with the english-speaking world. That is somewhat of a niche market, but most Americans don’t bother learning a second language well enough to be a productive member of society in a foreign country, so those that do are snatched up by that niche market.

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  33. Jo-Pete Neson

    RE: softwarengineer @ 25

    I’ve done a fair amount of interviewing and recruiting for software engineering positions and from my side of the equation, I would hire anybody who meets the high bar we set, regardless their country of origin. I’m not sure that I’ve noticed much difference in the quality of foreign-born candidates vs american citizens, but foreign-born american-taught candidates do seem to have a bit of an edge, possibly just because they are dedicated enough to their studies to go to a foreign country. If you have a good source of quality talent here in the US, I would be willing to split my referral bonus with you if you send them my way.

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