Daily Archives: August 16, 2009

Why, despite the nation’s entreaties, I refuse to be President

Poor Obama and his family finally get out of Washington and travel to Wyoming, where they get to spend a half hour, then on to Colorado, for 90 minutes of kayaking in the rain. The most powerful man in the world can’t just kick back and enjoy some of the most beautiful areas in our country for even a week. Even accounting for the irony, that sounds totally unappealing.

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iPhone Apps

There’s an article in the Washington Post today that claims to identify the “35 best iPhone apps in 2009″, but the WaPo’s site is so cluttered with popups, video ads and God knows what else that it’s impossibly slow and I only got through the first 9 (none of which appealed to me) before quiting.  So no link for them.

But there are some really cool applications, some free, some not so free, that I’ve either been playing with or want to. Google has a new app that allows searching by voice. Amazing. Click the button, speak your search term and a flawless transcription produces instant search results. Cool.

And for fishing or sailing, the free tide schedule from Shralp  is also neat. Hold the screen verticle and see a table of the the next tides in, say, Stamford (or Miami or Australis, wherever you select). Turn the phone horizontal and get a scrollable chart.

There’a $70 GPS maps program that I’ve resisted buying so far, but the reviews are excellent and even at this price it’s going to give Garmin and Tom Tom fits, if it provides the voice instructions, detailed street mapping etc. that it says it does. The days of the stand-along GPS for cars is over, but I’m guessing this program will drop way down in price as competitors show up.

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Hey, it’s an election year

Mayor Blumberg has offered NYC teachers an 8% pay raise even before contract negotiations begin. This shows that even electing billionaires to public office can’t stop corruption because these folks will still sell out their constituents, but for the ego-gratification of re-election instead of cash. Makes no never-mind to the citizens, they’re still screwed.

The problem is too powerful a government, not the schleps who run it. Deprive them of power and they’ll have no means to harm us.

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Their little heads are going to explode

If, like me, you follow the Kos Kids and the raving left, you’ll know that the “Public Option” - the takeover of the medical insurance industry by Washington – has been their number one priority this summer. It’s fueled living room meet-ups, millions of anguished blog posts and mass emailings, and has become the litmus test of whether a politician is a true progressive or a craven tool of (other) special interests. So word today that Obama is jettisoning that takeover is going to send these nuts into orbit. Their deep-seated neuroses about betrayal, abandonment and irrelevancy will just surge and I fear for their personal safety. If you see a netroot, hold his hand and murmur soothing sweet nothings in his ear – he needs it.

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What has Greenwich Time done with its story on the collapse of Antares?

Our Bridgeport – based paper has been sitting on a story about the rise and fall of Antares Greenwich for weeks now – it’s been written, fact-checked and photographed and is ready to go – but it seems to have disappeared down a black hole. Why? If the article itself can’t be printed because of libel issues, and I can’t see why that should be, assuming the facts are correct, wouldn’t the story of its suppression be newsworthy in itself? It would be fascinating to learn how a story is developed, researched and then squelched. If Greenwich Time won’t report on itself, maybe its weekly competitor Greenwich Post can do it. Or, if someone with knowledge of the situation (Neil Vigdor – you around?) wanted to send their thoughts along here, I’d be happy to post them.

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We declare the war is over

Hey, it worked for Phil Ochs back in the 60s, why shouldn’t the Netroots try it again? There’s a Kos convention going on in Pittsburgh this weekend – who knew, who cares? – and it turns out that the war in Iraq and Afghanistan that so exercised them during the Bush years is no longer any of their concern. That is so over, man. Mr. Ochs ensured that the war ended for him by hanging himself in his sister’s closet; I hope the Netroots show more mettle when they are faced with disappointment.

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Will banks ever disappear from Greenwich?

At least one reader fears they won’t, but I’m betting they will. As Cos Cobber points out, on-line banking is finally taking hold, and between the Internet and a few strategically placed ATMs, who needs a bank? For those who think that, once here, a bank is forever, I’ll remind them of Greenwich in the 1960s, when every four-way intersection had four gas stations. In Riverside alone, McDonalds has replaced the old Phillips 66, the Shell one block east is closed, Doc in the Box replaced Hess, Mavis Tire replaced John Garafolo’s Texaco, Rand Insurance stands where a Shell operated and some tile store (across from Neilsens/Burger King/Steak and Ale/Hayday/Balducci now occupies the old Sinclair station. At that, I’ve probably forgotten a few, yet at the time, they all seemed a permanent part of the landscape.

So I’m not worried. As soon as bank branches stop serving a useful purpose, and I’m guessing that will be soon, they’ll wither and die. The good old profit motive will make sure of it. And I’d rather have that test of a business’s viability than a romantic ideal imposed on a neighborhood’s commercial zone by even one as enlightened as Peter Berg.

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Vacant houses

Inventory of single family homes for sale in Greenwich is 700, down 45 or so from June, so that’s encouraging. Of course, we should expect a flood of new listings in September which will probably push the inventory back up to record levels, but for now, it’s comforting to know that something is selling.

I was curious to see how many of those houses are empty, indicating owners who have moved out, unsold spec homes and even bank owned properties, but it’s an impossible figure to determine. The MLS shows 68 as “vacant/key box”, but there are many listings with notations to “call Listing Broker”, which can also be, and often are, vacant. For instance, only 8 listings priced above $3 million have key boxes, out of 291 houses in that price category. The reasoning being, I suppose, that for that size commission the listing agent can damn well stir herself to show the property.

That said, the chances are better for getting a bargain on a vacant house because clearly it’s providing no shelter to anybody and serves only to further drain money from the pocket of its owner. So look for them.

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Someone’s picking on Walt Noel

A reader sent me this link to a WSJ article which I missed in all the excitement of setting up my new business venture (below). Massachusetts’s AG rejected an offer from FGG to compensate all that state’s victims for every penny they lost. The AG claims his state’s residents lost $6 milion with FGG, FGG said “okay, here: take it back”. Not sufficient. The AG wants more discovery and, prossibly, this being a position held by politically ambitious persons (see Blumenthal, Richard, eg), a show trial. Hmmm. More fun scheduled for September 9th.

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A new business opportunity from Walt Noel and myself

Okay, I haven’t checked this out with Walt yet but I’m sure he’ll be on board because it’s his kind of gig: Prosperity through donation and prayer. That’s right – tired of losing money in the stock market? Crippled? Unemployed? The answer, according to the New York Times, can be found in an old variation of religion, “give us (what’s left of) your money, and we’ll put in a good word for you with God.” Here’s how one such preacher puts it:

“God knows where the money is, and he knows how to get the money to you,” preached Mrs. Copeland, dressed in a crisp pants ensemble like those worn by C.E.O.’s.

Even in an economic downturn, preachers in the “prosperity gospel” movement are drawing sizable, adoring audiences. Their message — that if you have sufficient faith in God and the Bible and donate generously, God will multiply your offerings a hundredfold — is reassuring to many in hard times.

There’s a lot to like about this program, especially the part that says, if it doesn’t work for you, it’s your fault: you lacked faith. Think Fairfield Greenwich Group, think Bernie. Don’t blame the program, blame yourself. Perfect.

Now the preaching clan profiled in the Times are already busy, what with tending their new jets, smelting donated jewelry an what-all, so it occurs to me that Walter and I, at a certain sacrifice of our time and energy, could serve the local Greenwich crowd by setting up our own branch of the Bank of God. While full details are still being worked out, for now we’ve set up a cardboard box at the end of the driveway at 175 Round Hill Road to accept your donations. Got a yacht or a plane that won’t fit in the box? Call Walt – he’ll make arrangements for pick-up. So get cracking, and we’ll expect glowing testimonials soon. How soon? Well, the more you give, the harder we’ll pray and the faster the results.

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