Daily Archives: January 29, 2010

Jeeze – come on, guys

Remember that meteorite that crashed into a medical building down in Virginia? The docs donated it to the Smithsonian which, in return, was going to pay $5,000 for the rock and that sum was to be donated to a Haitian relief charity. From what I heard on the radio, an insurance policy was in place on the building and would pay for repairs but now the landlords are saying they’re entitled to the rock, and Deniz  and Erol Mutlu have demanded its return. Legally, I’d think their insurer is the one entitled to the piece of astro-rock, not them, but really: is this how you want to get your name in the press?

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Housing on life support

25% of all mortgages underwater. Time to either let the market take its corrective course and open up housing to those who couldn’t afford it before or prop up prices to keep preserve the status quo for another few years and prolong the agony. I prefer the former – Obama is going for door number two.

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Democrat geniuses: People are too stupid to know what’s in their best interest

The BBC, bless its black heart, has come up with two exasperated Democrat professors who explain why Americans won’t just shut up and listen to their betters. I’d love to see a follow up story that addresses how college educated professors could look at a trillion dollars spent on the “War on Poverty”, a $130 billion spent on Head Start, etc., all with absolutely no effect, and still believe that government has the solution to anything. How can they be so stupid? That’s the story I want to see.

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With the economy and health care solved, Obama moves on

Now he’s tackling that number one problem facing our nation, the college football bowl championships. Bread and circuses.

And InstaPundit captured this screenshot which pretty much sums up our President’s solipsism:

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Terror trials to be moved from New York City.

Obama caves. But where to conduct them? Rush Limbaugh suggests Washington D.C., which seems just about perfect, to me. They want  show trials, they should host them, no?

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Korean rice pops

My older sister Lorin is visiting and you never know what will happen when she gets together with our mother and goes shopping. Today, they brought home “Kim’s Magic Rice Pops” from ShopRite. Kinda cool: completely useless nutritionally, but with just 15 calories per plate-sized rice cake, how much do you want from a tasty snack? I admire the Koreans – they took Hundai, for instance, from a crappy car that required a 100,000 mile warranty just to lure Americans into buying it to a top-rated auto per Consumer Reports, in less than ten years. This rice cake was the invention of a Mr. and Mrs. Kim who figured out a way to make a version of a traditional Korean food into something that could be manufactured in local supermarkets here. Ingenious – I like that. I like the Koreans.

Video here:

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Attack of the bullet ants!

My poor Katie got bit by the bad one. She still swears she’s having fun but me, I’d be packing my bags.

Kat Fountain - still breathing in the Amazon

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Speaking of useless parasites

Will it fit in my mouth?

This book, “Who owns the Earth” says that Queen Elizabeth owns 1/6th of the globe: 3X the size of the United States. Is that possible? Probably is. I’m no redistributionist but, gosh.

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D’uh. Cellphone ban does not reduce accidents

This was known from previous studies but here’s the latest.

Here’s a surprising result: Looking purely at the frequency of crashes before and after enactment, new laws that restrict the use of handheld cellphone use (calling and/or texting) while driving produce no recognizable reduction in crashes.

So find researchers from the Highway Loss Data Institute, an organization that is funded by the insurance industry. They looked at the rates of monthly collision claims per 100 insured vehicle years—one car insured for one year—for vehicles up to three years old in the months right before and after hand-held bans went into effect in New York (November 2001), D.C. (July 2004), Connecticut (October 2005), and California (July 2008). This data set was then compared with nearby areas without a ban—for instance, D.C. was compared both with statewide trends in Virginia and Maryland, and with the city of Baltimore.

The methodology effectively corrected for economic swings, seasonal changes in driving changes, and other variables, the researchers say.

The HLDI observed drivers in the affected areas and found that handheld use was down significantly after the ban—but that somehow didn’t lead to a lower accident rate.

“The laws aren’t reducing crashes, even though we know that such laws have reduced hand-held phone use, and several studies have established that phoning while driving increases crash risk,” summed Adrian Lund, the president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the HLDI, in a release.

One possibility is that hands-free phones might be placing users at virtually the same overall risk as hand-held devices, despite recent results linking higher rates of distraction with the physical act of pushing buttons and holding the phone. Another possibility yet is that with a migration to “safer” hands-free options, people are communicating more while driving—or that for some drivers, having their hands free frees them up for other types of distractions, like eating or drinking.

“So the new findings don’t match what we already know about the risk of phoning and texting while driving,” Lund points out. “If crash risk increases with phone use and fewer drivers use phones where it’s illegal to do so, we would expect to see a decrease in crashes. But we aren’t seeing it.”

Study after study shows that bad drivers will crash, regardless of what they are or are not doing. This was well established before Connecticut passed its ban but the temptation to appear to be doing something about a problem plus the lure of additional revenues proved irresistable. And our cops, always eager for a new way to harass Greenwich citizens, were all to happy tp jump in. Bah.

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Cheap kitchens from Green Demolition in Norwalk

Good stuff, cheap, if you’re thinking of renovating or building new. Unfortunately, the company’s fired or gotten rid of some of their most knowledgeable people, but if you or your contractor know what you’re doing, you can still make this work for you.

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Queen Pelosi Airlines

"I'm just stretched to the limit!"

The lady who just yesterday announced that she would only accept a spending freeze if it also applied to the military has no qualms about spending our money on herself, as Judicial Watch reveals. As the result of a FOI request to the Air Force, the watch dog group has collected and released 2,000 documents relating to Pelosi’s use of Air Force jets for her personal junkets.

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the Air Force detailing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s use of United States Air Force aircraft for Congressional Delegations (CODELs). According to the documents, obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Speaker’s military travel cost the United States Air Force $2,100,744.59 over a two-year period — $101,429.14 of which was for in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol. The following are highlights from the recent release of about 2,000 documents:

  • Speaker Pelosi used Air Force aircraft to travel back to her district at an average cost of $28,210.51 per flight. The average cost of an international CODEL is $228,563.33. Of the 103 Pelosi-led congressional delegations (CODEL), 31 trips included members of the House Speaker’s family.
  • One CODEL traveling from Washington, DC, through Tel Aviv, Israel to Baghdad, Iraq May 15-20, 2008, “to discuss matters of mutual concern with government leaders” included members of Congress and their spouses and cost $17,931 per hour in aircraft alone. Purchases for the CODEL included: Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Bailey’s Irish Crème, Maker’s Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewars scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey, Corona beer and several bottles of wine.
  • According to a “Memo for Record” from a March 29—April 7, 2007, CODEL that involved a stop in Israel, “CODEL could only bring Kosher items into the Hotel. Kosher alcohol for mixing beverages in the Delegation room was purchased on the local economy i.e. Bourbon, Whiskey, Scotch, Vodka, Gin, Triple Sec, Tequila, etc.”

Pelosi’s been pulling this shit since she assumed command of the House, and the web’s been active with reports of her arrogant demands. Check some of these (a “G5″, by the way, is the top of the line Gulfstream 5 personal jet).

According to the report, intermediaries for Pelosi have demanded that the speaker use specific aircraft. When the planes are unavailable, they often become angry.

Kay King, director of the House Office of Interparliamentary Affairs, wrote, “It is my understanding there are no G5s available for the House during the Memorial Day recess. This is totally unacceptable … The speaker will want to know where the planes are. …”

In yet another request for unavailable planes, King wrote, “This is not good news, and we will have some very disappointed folks, as well as a very upset [s]peaker.”

When a DOD official told King a plane couldn’t be provided due to “crew rest requirements” and offered to help make commercial travel arrangements, King replied, “We appreciate the efforts to help the codel [sic] fly commercially but you know the problem that creates with spouses. If we can find another way to assist with military assets, we would like to do that.”

In 2007, Pelosi was criticized for using a 42-seat Air Force carrier to taxi her and her staff from San Francisco, Calif., to Washington, D.C., and back.”I want an aircraft that will reach California,” Pelosi told reporters, insisting that she wanted a plane that can fly nonstop to her home district.Since Sept. 11, Pelosi has received what the Air Force refers to as “shuttle service,” allegedly due to concerns for security.In recent years, Pelosi has reportedly requested a C-32 plane for her travels. The aircraft is a luxurious version of the Boeing 757-200 commercial intercontinental airliner and costs $22,000 an hour to operate.

Do you remember when Richard Nixon was criticized for running “the Imperial Presidency”? I certainly do and as a young teen-aged firebrand I hated him for it. Yet when he and Kissinger travelled to China to open relations with that country, they comprised a party of 12, if memory serves. Pelosi takes ten times that number just to pick up a bucket of KFC extra crispy. What a whore.

Air Pelosi booze receipt for just one flight

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Shadow sales?

Nothing much is showing up as under contract this week but things aren’t at all as quiet as  you might think.  In calling around to set up showing appointments for tomorrow I’m hearing of a large number of accepted offers. It’s certainly possible that some of those deals will fall through due to financing or other issues but I’m guessing that most are solid. So what’s selling? Definitely the under $1 million market. There is actually mortgage money available in this range (assuming good credit) and the first time buyer’s credit of $8,000 actually has some impact.

Other houses that are selling are, no surprise, those that have taken big hits to their asking price – One  I had hoped to show tomorrow that’s now gone is just under $3 million, after starting in the mid $4s a couple of years ago. Great house and now a decent price so I’m not surprised someone got it – I just wish it could have waited one more day.

So that’s the feeling I’m getting and, speaking with other agents, it’s not just me. Buyers have moved beyond tire-kicking and have enough confidence to place offers which are being accepted. But there are still a lot of unrealistically priced houses out here and I don’t believe they’re going anywhere.

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Downtown sale

49B William Street

Sold for $1.110 million in November, 2006. Sold for $960,000 yesterday. Not too bad a haircut.

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This should resonate with some banker friends I know

UBS trader quits the business, returns to native Switzerland to build skis. Shockingly, he sounds quite cheerful.

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Nothing new under the sun

Securitizing mortgage loans, a brilliant idea until we all discovered it wasn’t, aren’t exactly new. Turns out, the same financing was popular in the late 1920s. Funny enough, those came to a bad end too.

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Now I’m sorry

Bin Laden blasts America for global warming. On an equally amusing note, Scientific American is out with its February issue poo pooing all this talk about Climategate. Due no doubt to deadline pressures, it missed all the latest developments like the melting glacier fraud, the NASA fraud, etc., etc. Readers are letting them have it.

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Greenwich schools facilities director fired

Yet another head lopped off by our new superintendent. Good. There are a lot of heads still on their owner’s shoulders that deserve to roll, but the new man seems to be getting off to a good start.

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Shore Road Contract

108 Shore Road

I caught some flack from readers last week when I mentioned this home’s price reduction from $2.195 to $1.610, below its assessment of $1.732 million. Many felt it was still too high but someone obviously did not because this morning it’s reported as under contract.

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