Daily Archives: June 26, 2010

Oh Canada!

The Canucks spent a billion bucks on “security” for the G20 Summit, versus $25 million for the last one held in Pittsburg, and then stood idly by while  “anarchists” trashed the city. Hey – not my country, not my tax money, but I understand the average Canadian’s fury. And the fun’s just begun.

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Catching up

While under the weather last week I missed a number of emails – here’s one that makes me proud:

Chris:

Remember when I wanted to make an offer for [XXX]  (asking price: 1.25, after several drops from 2.2), and you said it was not worth more than 1 million? You made the offer for 950K and the realtor from the seller rejected it explaining to you -in a very condescending way- all the reasons why the house was going to sell at its asking price, and soon.

At the time, I asked you to counter at 1.1 and you insisted we’d be losing money if we bought the house at 1.1, so you never did. (By the way, I always tell my friends this story because a realtor who convinces his clients not to buy a house because he sticks by his principles instead of just thinking of the commission in sight is something I’ve never heard of before).

Today I read on the paper that the house was sold at 975k this month, i.e. almost 1 year after our initial offer for 950k.

Needless to say, I’m glad you never submitted my 1.1 offer  - not only because we would have overpaid but also because patience paid off: we got to find a house we like much better.

I keep on thinking of the people who bought the house next door that was practically exact and paid 1.24 some months ago. I bet you their realtor told them at the time that they were making a great deal.

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They’re baaaack!!!

Avocado appliances are hip again. I suppose I could grow sideburns, dig out my purple bell bottoms and my Frye boots and do the 60′s one more time, but I’m afraid my poor fried brain isn’t up for any more acid.

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Picking a real estate agent?

Article here from Houston. I agree with him.

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Scusie’s celebrity sightings

Judge Judy was seen gumming her new dentures at Dr. Ernie Whittle’s emporium on Sound Beach Avenue, while her husband, Judge Jerry Sheindlin, was being fitted for a colostomy bag at CVS.

Cody Gifford, son of Frank and Kathie Lee, was whupped by Frank at Valbella’s for sins unknown.

Regis and Joy Philbin tried to dine at Riverside’s McDonalds but were escorted out by the Greenwich Police – no word why, but Regis was tasered in the parking lot. Details to follow.

A local gossip reporter was pepper sprayed and tasered this evening after being caught coupling with a Dave Matthews Band roadie above the high water mark at Belle Haven. Ordered to cease and desist, she was heard to protest, “it hasn’t been ten minutes! I haven’t had ten minutes!”

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Any iPad users out there?

I’m thinking of buying an iPad for my Mom’s birthday (shhh! Don’t tell her) but I just read in this article that the darn thing doesn’t have a USB port! Really? How lame is that? Any of you out there using an iPad yet? If so, what do you think?

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Psst! Got a minute?

Or maybe ten. Survey says ten minutes is just right for sex, more than thirteen “tiresome”. Of course, there’s always TV.

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Are you deaf?

I am aware of a distressed property that is an incredible house on 4+ acres that is afflicted with Merritt Parkway noise. At $5 million, it would be back at its 2000 selling price, and that’s not counting the $1 million or so sunk into renovations. I suspect it could be had for somewhere in the $4s, or even lower. My few high end buyers aren’t interested, my lower end clients can’t afford it, but I know, because I’m selling a similar, albeit lower-price home to one of them, that some people will trade traffic noise for a bargain house. If that’s you, give me a call. There’s a great deal to be had here.

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An arbitration award of interest

Goldman Sachs has been whacked with a $20 million judgment by an arbitration panel for failing to discover or disclose Bayou Fund’s fraud

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was ordered to pay $20.6 million, the largest arbitration award levied against the securities firm, to unsecured creditors of Bayou Group LLC who accused Goldman of ignoring signs of fraud at the hedge-fund firm.

Bayou collapsed in 2005, and the firm’s former chief executive, Samuel Israel III, is serving a 20-year prison term for fraud. He pleaded guilty to misrepresenting the value of Bayou’s funds and defrauding clients out of more than $400 million.

Goldman cleared trades for the Connecticut hedge-fund firm before it collapsed. In 2008, Bayou’s unsecured creditors’ committee filed an arbitration claim against two Goldman units.

“Through either gross negligence or a willful choice to ignore the signs of fraud, [Goldman] failed to diligently investigate the red flags it was made aware of, to contact Bayou’s auditors to request additional information, or to alert the appropriate authorities of what it had learned,” lawyers for the committee alleged in the claim.

What’s significant about this award is that, for years, people like me representing investors tried unsuccessfully to make the clearing houses for penny stock firms liable for their clients’ fraud – Bear Stearns, for instance cleared trades (and provided financing for ) probably 75% of all the penny stock firms – its principals knew exactly what their clients were up to, but until they themselves went belly up (oh, happy day!) they denied any responsibility for enabling the crime.

This case would seem to indicate that, post Madoff, arbitrators aren’t going to allow Goldman Sachs (or Walter Noel?) to reap millions from enabling crooks and not be liable for the inevitable losses that follow. Good.

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Bummer: Ghana 2, USA 1

Watched the game just now with Katie, newly returned from Peru and John, down for the day from Maine. Quite entertaining – we watched it on Univision in Spanish – Kate’s the only bi-lingual among us but the game’s pretty self-explanatory and it was refreshing not to hear the usual inane prattle of American announcers. It was a hard fought game – no shame for losing this one, because the winning goal was a spectacular shot that no goalie could have prevented.

But now, having displayed my multi-cultural tolerance, it’s back to baseball and football for the next four years.

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What was Franklin Bloomer doing in Virginia?

Anger management counselor sentenced to prison for pulling gun.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A former priest and anger-management counselor who pulled a gun in a traffic dispute on two men who happened to be U.S. Marshals has been sentenced to a year in prison. Fifty-seven-year-old  Jose Luis Avila of Annandale pleaded guilty earlier this year in U.S. District Court to assaulting a federal officer.

In January, Avila was driving by the marshals near his home. He honked his horn because he believed they were standing in the road. When he thought one of the marshals made an obscene gesture at him, he pulled out a loaded handgun.

The 12-month sentence was in line with what prosecutors had sought. Defense lawyers wanted probation or time served; Avila has been jailed since January.

Avila has also been ordered to undergo anger management.

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From Holland with love

Instapundit quotes The Financial Post:

Some are attuned to the possibility of looming catastrophe and know how to head it off. Others are unprepared for risk and even unable to get their priorities straight when risk turns to reality.

The Dutch fall into the first group. Three days after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began on April 20, the Netherlands offered the U.S. government ships equipped to handle a major spill, one much larger than the BP spill that then appeared to be underway. “Our system can handle 400 cubic metres per hour,” Weird Koops, the chairman of Spill Response Group Holland, told Radio Netherlands Worldwide, giving each Dutch ship more cleanup capacity than all the ships that the U.S. was then employing in the Gulf to combat the spill.

To protect against the possibility that its equipment wouldn’t capture all the oil gushing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, the Dutch also offered to prepare for the U.S. a contingency plan to protect Louisiana’s marshlands with sand barriers. One Dutch research institute specializing in deltas, coastal areas and rivers, in fact, developed a strategy to begin building 60-mile-long sand dikes within three weeks. . . .

Why does neither the U.S. government nor U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn’t good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million — if water isn’t at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico. . . .

The Americans, overwhelmed by the catastrophic consequences of the BP spill, finally relented and took the Dutch up on their offer — but only partly. Because the U.S. didn’t want Dutch ships working the Gulf, the U.S. airlifted the Dutch equipment to the Gulf and then retrofitted it to U.S. vessels. And rather than have experienced Dutch crews immediately operate the oil-skimming equipment, to appease labour unions the U.S. postponed the clean-up operation to allow U.S. crews to be trained.

A catastrophe that could have been averted is now playing out.

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It’s good to be (next to) the King

Rent free apartment for Rahm Emanuel from British Petroleum

25 free Springsteen concert tickets

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