Covering the mortgage through the long emergency

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For snarky, mildly academic news commentary on the long finance meltdown the country is in the middle of, my reading of choice is Salon's How the World Works. Combine that with a Salon feature today on oil prices, and you start getting to immediate questions for my profession:

The bottom line: Oil prices are high today, not due to a temporary disruption in the global flow of petroleum as in 1980, but for systemic reasons that are, if anything, becoming more pronounced. This means news headlines with the phrase "record oil price" are likely to be commonplace for a long time to come. ...

Restoring vs. replacing historic windows - data?


Perhaps the most frequent and bitter of debates I see between historic preservationists and the average resident of an older home is window replacement. From the preservationist's standpoint, original windows are among the most important of defining characteristics of historic residential architecture. The typical rejoinder from the homeowner, convinced that replacing old drafty windows is key to home energy savings, is, "Okay, but are you going to pay my heating bills?"

The preservationist, in turn, will assert variously that significant energy savings can be achieved by properly restoring and weatherstripping the existing windows; that the return on investment from replacement windows vs. repair and weatherstripping is too low for replacement to be financially worthwhile; and, showing some savvy when dealing with purely environmentalist criticisms, that the embedded energy that goes into a replacement window is far greater than the lifetime savings of the replacement, and that the R-value of even a high-end energy efficient window is still very low.

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