Daily Archives: December 7, 2008

What price, recycling?

Prices paid for garbage plunge, jeopardizing municipal recycling programs.

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No surprise here

The rich have their troubles, too. As of August, 5% of jumbo mortgages were at least 60 days behind. That’s nothing compared to subprimes’ troubles (29%) but way up from a year ago, when the rate was 1.4%. And nothing’s improved since August, of course – quite the contrary.

“I think it’s going to get worse,” [a mortgage banker] said. “2009 is going to be ugly.”

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Everyone’s a critic

A self-styled writer, one Timothy Egen, filled in for Maureen Dowd today by writing a column she could have just as easily written herself entitled, “Typing Without a Clue”. Apparently Joe the Plumber has signed a book deal and Mr. Egen is livid.

The unlicensed pipe fitter known as Joe the Plumber is out with a book this month, just as the last seconds on his 15 minutes are slipping away. I have a question for Joe: Do you want me to fix your leaky toilet?

I didn’t think so. And I don’t want you writing books. Not when too many good novelists remain unpublished. Not when too many extraordinary histories remain unread. Not when too many riveting memoirs are kicked back at authors after 10 years of toil. Not when voices in Iran, North Korea or China struggle to get past a censor’s gate….

Most of the writers I know work every day, in obscurity and close to poverty, trying to say one thing well and true. Day in, day out, they labor to find their voice, to learn their trade, to understand nuance and pace. And then, facing a sea of rejections, they hear about something like Barbara Bush’s dog getting a book deal….

The idea that someone who stumbled into a sound bite can be published, and charge $24.95 for said words, makes so many real writers think the world is unfair.

As a writer who, like Egen and his friends the marketplace has deemed unworthy of support, I share his pain, but not his resentment at someone else’s good fortune. Life may be unfair, Tim, but you’ve got to admit that whoever’s running it has a fine sense of humor: You and I have to stick to our day jobs, Joe the plumber gets to quit his.
And cheer up, you did get your novel published – it’s just too bad it sucked. Publisher’s Weekly summarized it as “scattered, clumsy and over earnest”, which is about how I’d summarize your opinion screed, but you know they wouldn’t have dared say that if you and your friends had the power to decide who gets published and who gets sent back to cleaning septic tanks. Hang in there, fella; there’s bound to be a writing grant waiting for you in Washington come January 20th. Until then, work on that memoir.

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Lay off the spiked eggnog and you’ll avoid these

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This seems like good news for the country

Voters tossed out a certified crook – “Cold Cash Jefferson” with a person who to me epitomizes what this country used to be all about.
clipped from features.csmonitor.com
 

Born in war-ravaged Vietnam, Cao fled to the United States when he was 8, learned English, earned degrees in physics and philosophy, and joined the Catholic seminary.

When his views on how best to serve the poor changed, Cao went to law school, began a practice specializing in immigration, settled in Venetian Isles and started a family.

Cao’s reaction to the win? Perhaps astonished is the best word to describe it.

“Never in my life did I think I could be a future congressman,” he said. “The American dream is well and alive.”

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More on Apollo

Things are heating up with the parent company of Realogy (Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s, et als)
clipped from www.nytimes.com

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It snowed last night – see?

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Does this make sense?

Greenwich is considering charging residents for each bag of garbage they toss. We pay one way or the other, of course, but I don’t see the cost saving here. The quote below cites a cost to the town of $4.1 million to haul away our trash but we pay private carters to take it from our homes to the dump. Presumably, those carters are charged a dumping fee and they in turn include that fee in our bills. If so, how does paying an additional $2-$3 per bag accomplish anything, other than add a new source of revenue to the town’s coffers. And if thet town isn’t charging carters a dumping fee, perhaps it’s time to do so, all without requiring us to buy special bags at the grocery store.
clipped from www.greenwichtime.com
The program would also save the town money, officials say. Next year it will cost the town $78 per ton to have its trash hauled away. The community produces about 53,000 tons a year, Siebert said. If that figure holds steady next year, it will cost more than $4.1 million to haul away the trash.
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Apollo lays an egg

clipped from www.crainsnewyork.com
Apollo’s $8.8 billion LBO of Realogy in April 2007, threatens to turn into an even worse blunder. Cash from operations collapsed by 86% to $44 million through the nine months ended Sept. 30, a dire situation considering that the company is on the hook for about $600 million in annual interest expense on its $10 billion debt. Realogy is trying to stop the bleeding by swapping debt for new bonds, but investors are balking. Activist investor Carl Icahn sued last week, contending that Realogy is insolvent and the proposed debt swap is a fraudulent transfer.
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