Yesterday, the big news was that Oslo, Norway surpassed Tokyo, Japan as the world’s most expensive city in the world. The rankings, prepared by the Economic Intelligence Unit, take into account different metrics in calculating the cost of living for each city using New York as the baseline (100%). Simple enough, right? Oslo, with an index score of 140 is purportedly 40 percent more expensive than New York. However, I am going to have to call bullshit on the EIU list.

Why? In the rankings, Los Angeles was ranked 35th and San Francisco was ranked 40th! I grew up in Los Angeles, I have friends there, and I now live in San Francisco. I can tell you that there is no way that Los Angeles is more expensive than San Francisco. Every cost of living calculator I’ve found on the Internet puts Los Angeles at 12%-52% cheaper than San Francisco. Housing being the biggest factor in the difference in prices.

I for one would be able to sell my 1-bedroom/1.5-bath loft condo in the city and buy a 3-bedroom/2-bath house in or very near to Belmont Shore, a very nice area of Long Beach, CA (Los Angeles County). All things being equal, I would say the cost of living is cheaper there. I mean, assuming we moved to a place the same size as we live now and other factors. My commute would most certainly increase, but that’s life in Los Angeles.

Essentially, all of the cost of living indexes are skewed in one way or another due to the differences among the socio-economic classes. For example, for people making $50k per year that rent the difference in cost of living between cities may be substantially different than for those that make $150k per year and own. The rental markets in Los Angeles and San Francisco are relatively equal, but the median home price in San Francisco county is much higher than in most areas of Los Angeles county.

It’s complicated, but the bottom line is that people I know that have lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, have all stated that San Francisco’s cost of living is closer to that of New York than that of Los Angeles. There’s no way L.A. is more expensive. Which reminds me, big ups to my friend Brandon Jansen who is moving to Tokyo, Japan tomorrow to work for one of the other Big 4. Good luck, I hear it’s expensive there.

The Chronicle ran a story about Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle. Apparently, documents from his accountant detail the accountant’s pleading with Ellison to sell some of his $17 billion in Oracle stock to pay off his $1 billion worth of credit lines from multiple banks. It’s hard to think of a billionaire with financial problems, but those are the types of problems we alll wish we had. Don’t cry for him Argentina!

The Amazing Race 9 teams were revealed yesterday with little fanfare on the CBS website. The most exciting part of this race is the return of the 2-person team format. CBS officials have already confirmed that the Family Edition of the race will not return, ever. That’s good. Thankfully, this season doesn’t have too many teams that list their occupation as “models.” That’s not to say that there isn’t the obligatory eye candy, but it seems to have been diminished. This will again be “real” people running the race.

Based on the bios, all of the teams seem evenly matched and all the race cliches are represented. In commemoration of the original “Team Guido,” there’s one gay team, but they appear to be friends and not a couple. There’s one pair of middle-aged ladies that are twins, that’s pretty cool. There’s one geek team, and it will be painfully obvious as to who they are. There’s one older couple, as always. There’s several married and dating couples (too many to link), one of which is African-American. There’s one cutesy team of young girl friends. There’s one cutesy team of young guy friends. There’s no father-son team, but there is one mother-daughter team.

I am rooting for the mother-daughter team because they are Puerto Ricans from New York. Since they are representin’, I am going to have to put them down as my favorite. However, the odds are stacked against them since no two-female team has ever won the race. Tune in on February 28th for the two-hour premiere and let the race begin.

Phil Keogan a few days ago admitted that the last season of the Amazing Race was lame. He said that once you take away the “faces and places” the show becomes a lot less interesting. Of course he was referring to the fact that last season did not leave the Americas towards Europe, Africa, Asia, or Australia. As of this writing, the teams for the next season of the race have not been announced, even though the show was slated to air on February 28th. We should all prepare for a delay and prepare for a March or April premiere.

Richard Hatch, the original “Survivor” was found guilty today of failing to pay taxes on his winnings from the show, as well as not paying taxes on $355,000 in income from hosting a radio show and rent from income property. Hatch faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in prison and was taken from the court room in handcuffs because he is considered a flight risk. That’s quite the scene.

You know, I guess this guy is not as smart and cunning as everyone made him out to be once he won the $1,000,000 on the TV show. I mean, anyone that thinks that they can evade the U.S. government with excuses like “I am a bad bookkeeper” and “I thought they were paying the taxes” sounds not only dumb, but naive to the way the world works. It’s the legal equivalent to “the dog ate my homework,” particularly when the TV show had a signed contract that stated that contestants were responsible for their own taxes.

Hatch’s story shows that con men and hucksters like him can excel in the game of “Survivor,” but may be ill-equipped to win in the game of life. Life has a lot more responsibilities and variables than a game where you are “locked up” with 15 other people on a deserted island for 39 days. Sadly, the biggest loser in this whole thing is Hatch’s son who will have to live without his dad once Hatch goes to prison. Honestly, did he really think he would get away with it?

Kobe almost literally burst into flames today, scoring 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in a 122-104 Lakers win. Bested only by Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in 1962, it was the second highest individual scoring performance in NBA history. Here is the new individual scoring top ten list:

1. Wilt Chamberlain, Phi. March 2, 1962 vs. N.Y. 100
2. Kobe Bryant, L.A.L. Jan. 22, 2006 vs. TOR 81
3. Wilt Chamberlain, Phi. Dec. 8, 1961 (3OT) vs. L.A.L. 78
4. Wilt Chamberlain, Phi. Jan. 13, 1962 vs. Chi. 73
5. Wilt Chamberlain, S.F. Nov. 16, 1962 vs. N.Y. 73
6. David Thompson, Den. April 9, 1978 vs. Det. 73
7. Wilt Chamberlain, S.F. Nov. 3, 1962 vs. L.A.L. 72
8. Elgin Baylor, L.A.L. Nov. 15, 1960 vs. N.Y. 71
9. David Robinson, S.A. April 24, 1994 vs. L.A.C. 71
10. Wilt Chamberlain, S.F. March 10, 1963 vs. Syr. 70

Big ups to Kobe for a truly remarkable perforance. Since the 100-point record will never be broken, he’s now the one to beat.

After years of collecting dust, I’ve decided to sell my collection of Magic the Gathering cards on Ebay. I just don’t have time or energy to play with the cards anymore, and frankly, I need the space. Living in San Francisco doesn’t give us a lot of storage space and every little bit counts. The auction will last ten days, so act quickly if you are interested.

William Shatner went where “no man has gone before” today by selling his own kidney stone to a casino for $25,000 then donating the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity. GoldenPalace.com, the same casino that bought a piece of toast with the image of the Virgin Mary in 2004, bought the kidney stone for $25,000 after Shatner rejected their initial offer of $10,000. Oh, how I wish I could sell any bodily function for just $1, let alone $25,000! This is reason number 1,242 of why it’s cool to be Kirk.

Mark Burnett, the reality TV producer of Survivor, testified against the first sole survivor, Richard Hatch, in court last week. Burnett stated that all contestants signed an agreement with the show which stated that the constentants are responsible for all taxes on winnings from the show. Hatch is on trial on federal tax evasion and fraud charges and could face up to 75 years in prison should he be found guilty of all charges. He faces a total of 10 charges, including tax evasion, filing a false tax return, wire fraud, bank fraud and mail fraud. the U.S. Attorney claims that Hatch did not pay taxes on his “Survivor” prize money, income from a radio show and rental income. Additionally he is accused of using donations to his charity, Horizon Bound, to cover personal expenses. Looks like Hatch is going to be a rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-fat-naked-jailhouse-fag story.

George W. Bush uses the phrase “heck of a…” in public a lot. Sometimes up to four times in a ten minute public address! He says the phrase so often that it is considered key part of the presidential vernacular. You would think he would have stopped saying this after the hurricane Katrina disaster when he famously said, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” Well, he hasn’t and by all accounts he’s not going to stop.

Governator's Bloody Lip

The Governator’s recent motorcycle crash has started a political firestorm. Although Arnold Schwarzenegger has been driving a Harley for years, both at home and in movies, he has never bothered to obtain a motorcycle driver’s license. I would argue that this is proof positive that the wealthy and priviliged believe that they can choose which laws apply to them. California political observers and legislators are not amused.

Although many would argue that this picture is very amusing. I mean look at him! The Terminator. Huh!? Well, at least he’s smiling about it. It’s all fun and games when you are the governor of Caleeforneea.

…well, stays in Vegas. But what happens at home while you are in Vegas can get you arrested! You would have to live under a rock in the Bay Area if you haven’t heard about the “home alone” case. A couple took off to Vegas for a week and left their two kids, the youngest one mildly autistic, home alone with a stack of Healthy Choice dinners. Hey! They’re healthy! The parents also hired a dog-sitter for their puppies. That’s having your priorities straight! Dogs and gambling beats children. Well, the parents were charged today. I wonder what are the Vegas odds are that these guys will do time?

Microsoft can’t be too happy about this. A 26-year-old Placerville man was arrested for allegedly molesting a 14-year-old boy from Santa Rosa that he met through Xbox Live. Apparently he was trolling Halo 2 lobbies with the gamer tag “LuvYoungBoyz” and one young boy actually needed some lovin’. Perhaps now that pedophiles are on Xbox Live there may be less 12-year-old kids online kicking my ass 30 frags to nothing. This leveling the playing field.

As many of you know, Mama and I went to Hawaii this fall to visit our friends Larry and Tina. Can you guess from these photos what the best part of the trip was? Chilling on Larry’s lanai overlooking Kona, no. Watching the Ironman triathlon, no. Driving to South Point, no. Going to the top of Mauna Kea and seeing the observatories, no. Scuba diving with giant manta rays, no. It was finding Dog the Bounty Hunter, the coolest show ever and Hawaii’s coolest export. The theme song for the show is even written and performed by Ozzy Osbourne (see product description here), how cool is that? Big ups and thanks to Larry and Tina for introducing us to The Dog.

A two-headed snake will be put on sale on eBay for $150,000 obo. The World Aquarium in St. Louis will be selling the snake for 10 times what it paid for it six and a half years ago. The snake was not expected to live more than a few months. But since both heads are connected to the same stomach the snake is thriving. Check it out.