Daily Archives: December 7, 2009

Region west of Greenwich discovered

Contrary to my and most Greenwich residents’ belief, there is apparently a section of town west of Greenwich Avenue and south of the Post Road and it’s not Belle Haven, it’s a place called Byram. There’s not much there but a polluted river, a failed and abandoned condominium project and a bridge to Port Chester but its settlers want to bring attention to the area in the hope of maybe attracting a coffee shop or something. Good luck with that, guys, but you never know.

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Why the mortgage modification program is in the mess that it’s in

While I was out being reeducated by the GAR in New York, NYT’s columnist Floyd Norris published this report on a Chase loan modification clearing center. Read the whole thing if you want to be depressed but the executive summary is, there is no friggin’ way this is ever going to work.

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Why the world is in the mess it’s in

Dreamers, says Steven Den Beste, and he’s right. Not people who dream of possibilities, but people who, when their dreams encounter reality, deny that reality and deep dreaming. Sort of like some home owners I know.

Government by Wishful Thinking

Way back in the depths of time, Greek philosophers ended up with two basic and incompatible ways of looking at the universe. One way was materialism, which says that there is a material universe which behaves in a consistent way, and if you study it you can learn the way it works.

That’s the world view of engineers and scientists — and businessmen, for that matter. It’s the world view of people who understand and use mathematics, and statistics. It is a place where cause leads to effect. It’s the place that game theory studies. It isn’t necessarily inherently atheistic; a lot of religious people live in the materialist world.

But there are people who don’t. A different epistemological view is teleology, which says that the universe is an ideal place. More or less, it
exists so that we humans can live in it. And human thought is a fundamental force in the universe. Teleology says that if a mental model is esthetically pleasing then it must be true. Teleology implies that if you truly believe in something, it’ll happen. Wikipedia says:

A teleological school of thought is one that holds all things to be designed for or directed toward a final result, that there is an inherent purpose or final cause for all that exists.

And in its modern form that final result is presumed to be creation of a world of peace and harmony, a utopia, in which all men live in peace and brotherhood, in harmony with nature.

At least, that’s the distorted form of Teleology that has come down to some of us in the modern era, mainly on the left wing. Aristotle probably wouldn’t recognize his red-headed step child as it exists today, though. Like many philosophically pure ideas adopted into popular culture, it’s gotten mutated nearly beyond recognition and almost all the mutations were negative.

One way to compare and contrast those two world views is to consider what they think about socialism. Materialists look at history since Marx and point out that socialism has been tried many times, in many nations, in various forms, and it has always failed. In places where it was fully implemented the result was decline and economic collapse. When it was only partially implemented you got slower decline. It often looks like it’s working in the early stages, but in the longer term it has never succeeded.

So to materialists, it’s apparent that socialism is a nice idea, but one that doesn’t work and shouldn’t be adopted.

To teleologists, none of that matters. What matters is the fact that it’s a beautiful idea. It’s how things should be. In a world in which socialism was implemented and which worked the way the teleologists think it should work, you really would have a utopia. The fact that it’s invariably failed when used doesn’t change any of that. (When asked to explain all the failures, usually the answer is, “They didn’t do it right.” But for teleologists, a long string of failures doesn’t matter because fundamentally teleologists don’t believe things like that make any difference.)

It’s teleologists who drive around with bumper stickers that say, “Imagine world peace.” I can imagine it just fine. I don’t expect to see it in my lifetime, though. Why would they want me to imagine it?

It’s because teleologists believe that human thought truly affects things. Of course it does; thought precedes action, and actions change history, right? Yeah, but that’s not the point. Teleologists believe that thought directly affects things. The mere act of thinking about something and wanting it a lot directly changes reality, even if the thought doesn’t get translated into action.

It was teleologists who were mainly involved in the anti-war movement about five years ago when it was at its greatest. I remember reading about how they’d have a demonstration somewhere. Lots of people would come out. They’d parade about carrying signs saying, “End the war!” Someone would burn a giant mockup of President Bush’s head. And afterwards they’d all talk about how successful the demonstration had been.

Successful how? It didn’t have any political effect that I ever noticed. The war didn’t end because of the demonstrations. So what was it that they thought was successful? Well, if you asked them they’d talk about how there was all sorts of positive vibes. How good it felt to be out there. And how so many people were feeling the same thing. Which sounds like masturbation, if you’re a materialist, but genuinely makes sense for a teleologist. They really thought that if enough of them got together and wanted the war to end strongly enough, it would spontaneously end. Not because getting enough voters on their side would have electoral consequences, but because the act of wanting it would directly bring that about.

To a materialist this sounds like insanity. It is, as Chip Morningstar memorably put it, “epistemologically challenged”. And it doesn’t survive real world test. But to teleologists, “real world tests” don’t matter. The teleological world view inherently rejects all of that stuff.

Why does teleology (in this mutated form) matter? Because right now we have a teleologist as our President.

Matthew Continetti says that we’re in “a year of magical thinking.” And to someone who has grown up with a materialist view of the universe, it could certainly seem that way. But what’s really going on is that Obama has this kind of world view. And that explains everything he’s done.

It explains his foreign policy. To a teleologists, it just makes sense that everyone should want to get along. If you unclench your fist and hold out
your hand, everyone else will unclench their fists, and become your friends. So Obama is doing that, and as we know the result has been a shambles.

It explains his economic policy. Teleologists inherently don’t believe in unintended side effects when it comes to implementing their idealistic policies. Obviously it should be possible to provide free health care to everyone without wrecking the economy; it’s just how things really should be, so that’s how it will be. Where will the money come from? That’s the kind of question that materialists ask; teleologists don’t concern themselves with such trivial. It’ll happen somehow, because it’s obviously how it should turn out. To say we shouldn’t do it is to be heartless, uncaring — and those things are more important than mundane claims that it won’t work. If you just believe, it will work.

Of course, it won’t work. The materialists are right about that. But when it fails (if it gets tried) the teleologists will blame the negative vibes of all the materialist doubters for the failure. If only they’d come on board and supported it, then it would have come out OK.

It explains his dealings with Congress in general. He has been telling Congress in very general terms what he wants from them, and seems to think that this is all he really has to do. He wants the bills enough so that Congress will spontaneously create exactly the bills he wants and send them to him as soon as he says. Nothing else need be done by him except to want them.

The teleological world view on the left has been a factor in American politics to a greater or lesser extent since the 1960’s, but this is the first time it was largely in control. And the most likely outcome of it is to make most Americans understand just how deeply worthless, and outright damaging, it is. Which, in the long run, will be very good for America.

The only concern is that we can come through the remaining three years of Obama’s first (and almost certainly his only) term of office without sustaining irreparable damage. If Congress had moved at the speed Obama wanted them to, we might have suffered such damage, but now that we’ve almost made it through his first year and are moving into an election year, with public opinion polls moving strongly against Obama and his policies, I am becoming cautiously optimistic that we can survive this.

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Rural land boom

Merle Haggard

I’m tired of this dirty old city.
Entirely too much work and never enough play.
And I’m tired of these dirty old sidewalks.
Think I’ll walk off my steady job today.

Turn me loose, set me free, somewhere in the middle of Montana.
And gimme all I got comin’ to me,
And keep your retirement and your so-called social security.
Big City turn me loose and set me free.

(Merle Hagard, “Big City”)

The WSJ reports on a back to the land movement that has rural farmland prices increasing these days, instead of following suburban values down the drain. That’s good, and I’d love to have 100 acres or so with a mini-tractor myself, but I lived in rural Maine and just recently spent time in rural New York and, if I’m entirely honest with myself, I think I’ve been spoiled for such a life by growing up in crowded old suburbia. When a decent restaurant is ninety miles from Bangor, you learn to do without, but that doesn’t mean you don’t miss a night out, and an evening at the Bangor Mall just doesn’t fill that gap. Still, I originally wanted a law degree so that I could make some kind of income in the wild west, then forgot that dream as love, marriage and kids came along (in that order, surprisingly). If I were a twenty-five-year-old romantic, I might try it again.

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The center will not hold – limo shortage in Carbonhagen

Official Pace Car, Summit in Carbonhagen

Aw geeze, those poor delegates who’ve flown to Danmark to save the world from people like them have really come a cropper – there aren’t enough limousines to ferry them around!

On a normal day, Majken Friss Jorgensen, managing director of Copenhagen’s biggest limousine company, says her firm has twelve vehicles on the road. During the “summit to save the world”, which opens here tomorrow, she will have 200.

“We thought they were not going to have many cars, due to it being a climate convention,” she says. “But it seems that somebody last week looked at the weather report.”

Ms Jorgensen reckons that between her and her rivals the total number of limos in Copenhagen next week has already broken the 1,200 barrier. The French alone rang up on Thursday and ordered another 42. “We haven’t got enough limos in the country to fulfill the demand,” she says. “We’re having to drive them in hundreds of miles from Germany and Sweden.”

Remember, children, these are really serious people dealing with a really, really serious problem. As Jesus himself said of them, “by their works shall ye know them” (in Aramaic, of course, but still….)

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Shocker of the day: contract on Manero’s condo

559 Steamboat Rd

Who would have guessed? There’s a contract on one of these units reported today. The developer dropped a million off its price but it’s still at $6.995 and I really didn’t expect it to move this year. I’d love to see the purchase contract on this one because I’m sure anyone financially capable of paying this much is just as capable of demanding full protection in the event the project doesn’t sell out. $7 million is a lot to pay for the privilege of being a pioneer.

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Food shopping: think globally, hunt locally

.270 Winchester 130 gr

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Greetings from Iowa

Got a nice email postcard from our corrupt Senator Dodd just now and, while I haven’t had time to read his proposed plan to “Get Connecticut Back to Work” (it seems to involve tax subsidies for the small businesses he’s crushing elsewhere) I was struck by the winter scene he poses in front of. I assume from the snow that it was not taken at his Irish cottage or Washington penthouse, so maybe it’s where he parked his children last year when he was running in Iowa?

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Tell me when it hurts

26 Cedarwood Drive

This spec job has been on the market since 2006 and was built on land purchased for $2.4 million in 2004. That’s a long time to wait for your money but this seller is nothing but patient. Still, he has reduced his price over the years, from $7.450 to $4.995 million today. One day …

 

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If you are declared a health hazard, should you continue to exist?

I’ve been thinking about today’s decision by the EPA declaring carbon dioxide to be a health hazard. I find it alarming that humans, known for emitting CO2, are in effect being declared hazardous to the globe by a government agency. Only little people pay taxes and no doubt only no-account carbon spewers will be considered disposable but as a no-account, I worry about such things.

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New land in Riverside

When you can't sell the house, sell the view

Dr. Kitchen’s place at 73 Club Road has been put up for sale for $10 million, courtesy of brother Gideon – be sure to close before Christmas gifts are due, would you? 2 1/2 acres of nice rolling lawn, waterfront, dock and, of curse, the I-95 bridge down harbor. Hey, what do you expect for this price? It’s nice land – I remember it as the LaPierre’s place but Gideon claims it was the site of the original Tyson Estate – which makes sense. What ever happened to that house?

On another bright note for Gideon’s firm, 10 Sparrow Lane is finally under contract. Started at $5.250 million back when Commodore Tyson was still driving his buggy up Club Road, eventually dropped to $3.8 and now has a buyer. That’s good news for the owner, who moved out awhile ago.

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Isn’t this the guy Suzie’s always chatting with under the tables at Valbella’s?

Tree service by Cody Gifford, Inc.

Actor Richard Gere clearcuts Pound Ridge property, faces $50,000 fine. This is the same sort of ordinance Greenwich tree huggers want to bring here, which should give some people pause – me, for instance.

But where is Greenwich Time’s Suzy on this story. eh? She keeps neglecting her job, FWIW’s going to have to unleash Scusie on the story and get an interview.

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15 Carleton looks better each day

Price chopped

Okay, Carleton is not my absolute favortist street in town, but it has its advantages: it’s convenient to the big city and could be considered within walking distance to the train if you’re a marathoner. I previously mentioned this house when it first came on at $2.349 because it sold new in 2007 for $2.8 million. Now it’s been reduced to $2.249; at some point, and this may be it, or not, the place starts looking like a steal. At the very least, it’s looking darn reasonable.

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like Festivus

This CO2 breather died for your sins

UN bans Christmas trees at Copenhagen junket as a forbidden religious symbol. It’s probably mean to say so, but what are the odds that the jerk who sued the Cos Cob Volunteer Fire Department to remove their cross is also a global warmist? It is the new religion for secularists, after all.

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Senator Max Baucus sees nothing wrong

Photo copyright Fastdates for Senators .com)

Sure he appointed his girlfriend (the Senator is still married) as the U.S. Attorney for the great state of Montana, but she was “the most qualified person for the job”. You might expect this little bit of corruption to cause grief to the man but he’s heading up ObamaKare so he’s untouchable. In fact, the chances of his being censured by his peers are about as likely as Charles Rangel paying his taxes.

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Uh oh, here comes the EPA

As I mentioned when the Senate’s Cap and Trade bill went nowhere, the real threat to our economy comes from the EPA, which has the power to declare CO2 a “dangerous pollutant” and intends to do so, perhaps as early as today* Business has just noticed, and is scared. And rightfully so – while the EPA intends to focus on industries emitting 25,000 tons of CO2 and above (read, shutting down all coal-fired power plants, just as promised by Obama), the law reaches as low as 250 tons – a golf course, say, and private groups will undoubtedly sue to force the EPA to shut them down, too. Every housing development, every new factory, every new Wal-Mart and highway will be subject to these suits. This may well bring hope and change, but isn’t going to do much for unemployment. Which of course is the goal of these people.

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A lawyer who represents himself has …

There’s one price change today, a rental on Ballwood in Old Greenwich. It didn’t rent at $14,000 so the owner, a real estate agent, has increased it to $15,000. That will teach you to dither, eh?

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Here’s one guy who obviously doesn’t peddle real estate for a living

Spending so you don't have to

Greenwich Time’s Neil Vigdor has posted this picture of a $120,000 Maserati  toting a town employee parking sticker and wonders whose salary we’re paying that affords such luxury. Word is that it actually belongs to BET member Larry Simon, but it’s nice to know we provide free parking for the man. The little things add up, you know.

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Maybe there’ll be a Christmas for realtors after all

$12.75 an hour!

With some realtors prowling the woods looking for animals to kill and eat and the GAR offering to pay admission to the annual Christmas Party to cheer up their despondent members, word that the Census Bureau is going to hire 600 canvassers in Fairfield County has the local industry abuzz. “This is great news,” David Ogilvy said, taking a break from his duties as a car detailer at Splash. “I’m doing fine, personally, of course, but some of my agents could use a little help this time of year.” Russ Pruner wanted to speak on the topic but was refused permission from the owner of Garden Catering, Frank Carpenter: “he wants to talk to you on his own time, fine,”Carpenter said, “but right now he belongs to me, 6:00 am to 4:00.”

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Climategate Copenhagen: 1,200 limos, 140 private jets, and caviar

And that’s after Al Gore’s mysterious cancellation of his own jaunt over to the summit. But not to worry, the world press is on the job, with 56 newspapers promising to sing as one about the dangers of global warmism and the importance of taking money from us to give to the dictators of Africa. They’re on the beat, and the pad.

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