Daily Archives: March 15, 2009

Feds look to freeze Ruth Madoff’s assets

Ruthie has agreed to a voluntary freeze but that’s not the same thing. According to the NY Post, the feds are building a criminal case against the $65 million cookbook authoress and want to make sure the money’s still around when they prevail. Walt and Monica’s drink parasols are, so far, safe from such thuggery. Skoal!

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Blasphemy in Oregon

A school boy has been barred from wearing an Obama mask in a talent show skit because some parents and the boy’s principal decided that a likeness of the Messiah was “offensive and inappropriate.”

“I talked to the parents who are coordinating the talent show, and they feel it’s inappropriate and potentially offensive,” Llewellyn Principal Steve Powell said.

When asked what was offensive about Dru’s skit, Powell refused to discuss it.

“I won’t say why it’s inappropriate,” he said. “I’m not saying anything to The Oregonian. Why? Because I don’t want to.”

Home schooling looks better every day.

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Liars, damned liars and real estate agents

Market for vacation homes blazing hot, say real estate agents

Actually, some of the agents tell the truth in this article, so I blame the editor for insisting on putting a positive spin on dismal news. Mustn’t upset advertisers, must we? It’s a lesson known well by the folks at Greenwich Post.

Even in troubling times, those with cash to spare — and the desire to invest outside the turbulent stock market — face a silver lining: prime conditions to find a vacation home.

With wide inventory and competitive pricing in their favor, folks in search of frequent leisure (and perhaps retirement) could score a deal that puts relaxation within reach.

“Now that people are able to afford it or justify it, the market has become extremely hot” for vacation homes, said David Nourse, a real-estate broker who splits his time and clientele between Columbus and Naples, Fla.

“As soon as (Naples) houses come on the market, I’m on the phone” with interested parties, Nourse said.

Claiming that he hasn’t been as busy in three years, Nourse said Naples-area homes that might have sold for $450,000 at the start of 2006 are being snapped up for as little as $300,000. He added that smaller inland properties can be found for even less, prices that didn’t exist several years ago, when the housing bubble and building boom fueled sky-high sale prices.

Amid a battered economy and a rash of foreclosures, housing markets in sun-soaked states such as Arizona, Florida and Nevada — prime second-home markets — are hurting, according to RealtyTrac, a Web site that collects default data.

“It’s a buyer’s market,” said Joe Mezera, a real-estate broker who works in Columbus and Hilton Head, S.C., where list prices on some parts of the island are down 20 percent. “Prices are certainly lower now. The inventory of properties is higher, without a doubt.”

Nationwide, fewer shoppers purchased a vacation home in 2007 — 740,000 homes vs. a record 1.1million in 2006, according to a national survey by the National Association of Realtors.

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Possible Shakespeare portrait discovered and experts’ minds turn to sex

shakespeareKind of neat if, after 400 years, the only portrait of Shakespeare painted while he was alive (he died in 1616, it says here, turns up near Dublin.  For reasons best known only to those offbeat Brits (but too much public school floggings probably play an important role) Shakespeare experts are most excited by the idea that this may show his bisexuality. There’s a disconnect here, but you’ll never get the Brits to admit it.

“His face is open and alive, with a rosy, rather sweet expression, perhaps suggestive of modesty,” it said. “There is nothing superior or haughty in the subject, which one might well expect to find in a face set off by such rich clothing. It is the face of a good listener, as well as of someone who exercised a natural restraint.”

In a handout for reporters, the trust said the portrait might open a new era in Shakespeare scholarship, giving fresh momentum, among other things, to generations of speculation as to whether the playwright, a married man with three children, was bisexual. Until now, that suggestion has hinged mostly on dedications to the Earl of Southampton that Shakespeare wrote with some of his best-loved poems and some of the sensual passages in his poems and plays, particularly his sonnets, most of which, the London scholars said, are centered on expressions of love and desire for men, not women.

“This Shakespeare is handsome and glamorous, so how does this change the way we think about him?” the handout said. “And do the painting and provenance tell us more about his sexuality, and possibly about the person to whom the sonnets are addressed?”

They really must stop caning and such in Harrow’s dorm rooms.

Please, Sir, time for more discipline!

Please, Sir, time for more discipline!

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The coming pension fund disaster

A reader sent me this helpful link, PensionTsunami.com,  which covers primarily California’s pension woes but also has stories like, “NY local pension coasts to soar”. Read it and be afraid.

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Equipment sale

    

$25 or two cases of beer. Call Burke at Greenwich High Detention

$25 or two cases of beer. Call Paul Burke at Greenwich High Detention

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A religion of peace, love and compassion

Minister beaten by Muslims after clash on television.

A Christian minister who has had heated arguments with Muslims on his TV Gospel show has been brutally attacked by three men who ripped off his cross and warned: ‘If you go back to the studio, we’ll break your legs.’

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Round up of CPSIA (no-lead left behind) law’s effects and inanity

Overview from Overlawyered.com.  All children’s books published before 1985 are deemed unsafe and must, by law, be removed from libraries. I imagine there are thousands of Alar Moms busy right now clearing out their kid’s bookshelves and calling Haz-Mat teams in to remove them. For the rest of us, this may be one of Congress’s most asinine effort in years. I’d say it was one for the history books, but they’ve been banned.

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Designer suits, lunch at the Four Seasons, jetting off to California with clients; they’re telling my story!

Tough times for glamour agents in New York City.

As the market soared in the past decade, so did the status of once-humble real estate brokers, some of whom became quasi celebrities akin to their clients, boldface names who appeared in gossip columns and, yes, became regulars at the Four Seasons, dining alongside the city’s most high-profile movers and shakers. 

Oh, how I miss those days! It’s lunch at Chicken Joe’s now, usually with low-lifes like Frank Farricker – the Donald won’t return my calls anymore (or his cellphone service was cut off by the bankruptcy Trustee). But we’re all coming back! You wait and see.

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Alternative careers

The rise and fall of Iceland’s original pizza king. Like his crust, Ole is rising again – favorite topping? Salt cod. Hey, you IBers might try it here.

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At 78, Walter won’t live to see the end of this

Reader Horse Hockey sends a Citifile link: yet another class action suit against Walter, his son in law Andres, partner Jeff Tucker and, of course, Fairfield Greenwich Group. No mention of Monica or the Fabulous Five though, and that must be a relief.

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The Gangs of Greenwich?

Blogger Brian Harrod over at Greenwich Roundup claims that the housing projects are infested with gangs, from both Port Chester and home grown, and our Chief of Police is covering it up. Brian quotes anonymous police officers to this effect but anyone can be anyone and say anything when they’re anonymous so I’ll reserve judgment. Still, you’d think that Greenwich Time, having basically become a Bridgeport paper under the care of its parent, Connecicut Post, now has access to reporters experienced in reporting on gang warfare and could send a few over to Wilbur Peck to see what’s up. Me – I wouldn’t dare.

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Oh Goody, the Times of London has discovered Chris Dodd’s Irish Cottage

Being closer to the action, we can hope that they’ll bring more light to this than, say, The New York Times has (joke. The NYT has never covered this story. Try searcing its index for ” ‘Chris Dodd’ Connemara ” and you’ll get, “no articles can be found”).

A holiday home in Connemara is at the centre of a growing row in America involving a prominent Democrat politician, a convicted insider trader and the former president Bill Clinton.

The purchase of the home by Senator Christopher Dodd is being examined by the US Senate ethics committee after allegations that Edward Downe Jr, a businessman convicted of insider trading, acted as a “middle man” in the deal.

Eight years ago Dodd, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination against Barack Obama, lobbied Clinton, the then president, to grant Downe a pardon. This has prompted further questions about the financier’s involvement with the Galway house.

Dodd’s father Thomas was forced from the Senate in disgrace and the son has long claimed a desire to restore [sic] his father’s good name. How much better it would be if the man simply decided not to seek reelection next year and slunk off into the world of Washington lobbying where he could continue to enrich himself outside of the public glare? It’s that or an election loss to a Republican or, best yet, joining his father in his ignominy. Any of the three alternatives would suit me fine.

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The destruction of New York, continued

A  NewYork  Apellate Court decision threatens landlords, builders and city coffers.

The state appeals court decision bars New York City landlords from deregulating apartment rents while receiving a popular tax break meant to encourage building renovations. Industry officials say the decision could affect as many as 80,000 apartments in the city, trigger widespread defaults on loans, eliminate construction jobs and reduce property tax revenues for the city.

NYC has survived WWII rent control laws, at a price, because of its vibrant economy. As that collapses, this will be just another nail in its coffin. The state Legislature, demonstration its wisdom in all matters economic, is seeking to expand rent control further. This all may be great news for Greenwich real estate.

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Obama lied, foetuses won’t die!

Two days after rescinding Bush restraints on the practice, President Obama signed a law that bans federal funding of any research that leads to the destruction of human embryos.

Well yeah, but the difference is that Obama’s not some religion-crazed whacko from Harvard, like our previous president. Change!

Update: Demonstrating that Bush Derangement Syndrom is both long lasting and has a profound, deleritus effect on brain cell functioning, the Times’ Frank Rich hasn’t noticed that he’s been fooled by The One. 9/11 was caused by Bush’s attempt to ban stem cell research – I kid you not – go read the article.

When Barack Obama ended the Bush stem-cell policy last week, there were no such overheated theatrics. No oversold prime-time address. No hysteria from politicians, the news media or the public. The family-values dinosaurs that once stalked the earth — Falwell, Robertson, Dobson and Reed — are now either dead, retired or disgraced. Their less-famous successors pumped out their pro forma e-mail blasts, but to little avail. The Republican National Committee said nothing whatsoever about Obama’s reversal of Bush stem-cell policy. That’s quite a contrast to 2006, when the party’s wild and crazy (and perhaps transitory) new chairman, Michael Steele, likened embryonic stem-cell research to Nazi medical experiments during his failed Senate campaign.

I am always amazed that liberals read droolings like this, nod their heads in approval and then claim that you’d have to be a moron to question the Left’s position on anything. Is there an audience anywhere, except for the New York Times, where Frank Rich would be read?

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Problem – opportunity!

Scientists say old age begins at twenty-seven

Students look to funeral careers

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“Riot” at Wilbur Peck

I don’t know if fifty people (plus a dozen cops) make a riot, but Greenwich Time reports on a darn good fight that occurred early Saturday morning at the housing project.  This ought to help condo sales on Davis Avenue. I wonder whether the  neighbors at Milbrook are growing nervous? For that matter, those $5 million condos on East Elm are just a block away, too. If there’s more to this than a solitary Saturday night brawl, I’d guess that we’re going to hear some loud complaints. The residents at Wilbur Peck can’t be happy about this either, but their complaints rarely matter.

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Why not nationalize the company and execute its executives?

AIG execs paying themselves tens of millions of dollars $100 165 million in bonuses. For a job well done, no doubt. NY Times provides latest figures (which keep increasing)

[Chief Executive Liddy:] “We cannot attract and retain the best and brightest talent to lead and staff the AIG businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of the American taxpayers — if employees believe that their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. treasury.” 

I see no need to “retain the best and the brightest” of A.I. G. employees and they have certainly demonstrated that they are no more talented than the fellow who picks up my trash on Mondays. In fact, my garbage man is reliable and does his job, without fail. Let’s put him in charge.

Update: from the Time’s Article, another gem:

The payments to A.I.G.’s financial products unit are in addition to $121 million in previously scheduled bonuses for the company’s senior executives and 6,400 employees across the sprawling corporation. 

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal says it’s $451 million, plus that $121. We own 80% of this company and can’t stop this? As suggested in my headline, let’s take the remaining 20% and throw these gluttons out on their fat asses. Best and brightest indeed.

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