Daily Archives: December 15, 2009

Omit needless words

And here’s a Minnesota judge who enforces it. The two books that most influenced my writing style are Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” and Strunk & White’s “Elements of Style”. I wander from those ideals all the time, but I try, I do try.

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Casinos coming to the Hamptons

But Rick told me to put it all on 24 and keep it there!

Shinnecock Indians close to getting federal recognition, casino to follow. Foxwoods and that other place can’t be happy and Hartford, which counts on a share of the loot, is in (even deeper) trouble.

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My goodness, it’s 1829 again!

Who wants eggs?

Uninvited tourists wander into White House, have brunch.

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They were precocious, in a special, perky way

Authorities recall 800,000 doses of kids’ swine flu vaccine

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Paul Krugman: “Tales of bad British medical care are lies.”

Daily Mail: maternity wards in chaos, mothers drugged to keep them quiet. They report, you decide.

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Gifts for everyone

Camel's hair coat - $380 orig. Now $65

From Amazon, nice coat

Technivorm coffee maker

World’s best coffee maker, according to Cook’s Illustrated. 4X the price of the coat, above, but that’s for her, this is for you.

Winchester model 70 .270

Winchester pre-1964 Model 70, .270 cal. $1.375

Amazon Kindle $259

The amazing Kindle.

Hilarious! What a read!

Greenwich Mean Time: Indians invade Tod’s Point, by your favorite author.

Works on lawyers, too

Butt Out from Bass Pro Shops, $11.95. Cheap!

Snow shoes from Sierra Traders

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Happens here too

Madison Wisconsin discovers that LED traffic lights don’t generate enough heat to melt snow. That’s been going on here in Greenwich ever since we switched. Check it out the next snowstorm. The lights get buried under snow and are reduced to, at best, a faint glowing.

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Good Lord

Massachusetts second – grader suspended, ordered to undergo psychological testing after drawing picture ot the crucifixion. Good thing Rembrandt was never a Massachusetts second-grader!

UPDATE: But see this link, sent in by Boredatwork. Taunton school board presents its side of the story.

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Real estate news!

15 Lia Fail Way

Hooray! Some prices to go with contracts. Here’s 15 Lia Fail, which I liked very much, asked $2.295, sold for an even $2 million. Excellent value, I believe.

8 Round Hill Road, not a horrible house, started at $3.6, which was horrible, and ended today at $2.5 million. Much better.

10 Cornelia

10 Cornelia met the market, and was rebuffed, at $9.75 in 2007, eventually dropped to $6.95 and sold for $5.8 million. Moral? Don’t be stupid.

Speaking of which, 18 Bowman Drive, a bank sale, was originally listed at $2.685 million in 2007, a price that ignored the location, which was (a) a back lot, (b) had a water tower looming over it, (c) was next to a graveyard, and (d) was off of King Street.  It didn’t sell, for obvious reasons, and the lender eventually took it back and lowered the price to $1.495. It’s under contract today.

Old Greenwich, on the other hand, continues to move houses. 13 Shore Acre, a renovation, was listed at $2.495 in October and went to contract in just nine days. Closed today at $2.4 million.

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Never let a good canard die

Here’s a fellow in the Asia Times who is astonished that the United States let Russia and China get Iraq’s oil.

BEIJING – Former United States vice president Dick Cheney, ex-defense minister Donald Rumsfeld and assorted US neo-cons will have plenty of time to nurse their apoplexy. One of their key reasons to unleash the war on Iraq in 2003 was to seize control of its precious oilfields and thus shape a great deal of the new great game in Eurasia – the energy front – by restricting the access of Europe and Asia to Iraq’s staggering 115 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

After at least US$2 trillion spent by Washington and arguably more than a million dead Iraqis, it has come to this: a pipe dream definitely buried this past weekend in Baghdad with round two of bids to exploit a number of vast and immensely profitable oil fields.

The columnist is completely baffled by our letting the oil auction be conducted by the Iraqis and the rights sold to the highest bidder. That is indeed baffling if you insist, as all proper liberals do, that Iraq was about oil. In fact, it was not. The invasion will undoubtedly go down as one of the great blunders of this century but, like other paths, it was lined with good intentions. Bush was an idealist and determined to stop Saddam and his nuclear weapons. That he was wrong about Hussein’s possession of those weapons doesn’t make the war “all about oil”. It never was.

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Can’t you give the family a break?

Marissa Noel at "work"

First the Noel family’s burgeoning art auction business was shut down before it even started, now they’ve been ordered to remove their begging tables from New York City’s streets. Their “Help the Homeless” campaign was “nothing but a fraud”, NY’s Andrew Cuomo asserted, but Marissa begged (so to speak) to differ. “Of course we’re homeless,” she wailed, “or we’re going to be. What are we supposed to do, shack up with Ruthie at her in-law’s place? That’s a studio, for God’s sake. Oh boo hoo hoo.”

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Perfect

Going once ...

Scam artists auctioning “Genuwyne Madoff art work” slapped upside the head by Blumenthal. “I checked with my  neighbor and good friend Walt,” Blumenthal told FWIW’s Scusie, “and he admitted to me that none of this crap ever hung on his pal Bernie’s walls. So he promised to stop doing it.”

 Phew! Another bunch of suckers saved from disappointment.

“It’s a scam within a scam,” said Philip Eliasoph, professor of art history at Fairfield University, who complained to Blumenthal’s office Thursday about the scheduled auctions. Eliasoph, who teaches about museums, auctions and the art market, said it’s a classic bait-and-switch tactic.

“The whole pretense is, it’s coming out of Uncle Bernie’s Montauk mansion,” said Eliasoph, a member of the state Commission on Culture and Tourism.

“People are so stupid,” he said. “This one in particular is egregious because they’re playing on the whole pretense of the Madoff fraud. It’s a fraud encrypted in a fraud. Most of what is being auctioned, if you showed up with it at the door of Christie’s or one of the other major auction houses, you wouldn’t even get in to see one of the specialists in modern or contemporary art.”

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Wanna be a Byram landlord?

9 High Street

This two-family came back on today, now at $549,000, a great improvement over its original 2007 price of $785,000 and the various lower prices thereafter. According to the 2007 listing, it threw out $36,300 in income and cost $9,383 to maintain. Those numbers might not have worked at $785,000 but they don’t look bad now. Assessment’s around $500,000, by the way.

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No real estate news, again

I’ll report it as it happens, if it happens, but we are definitely in the holiday doldrums now so if this blog seems even more heavily loaded with political and odd-ball stories, that’s the reason. Not a permanent shift, but if it offends you (which is often my point, I admit), feel free to just check in every couple of days and scan for whatever sparse real estate news I’ve found. Then come back after New Years – please.

Open houses today were skimpy – I did see one new listing which, because it’s new, I won’t embarrass the seller by giving its address (my rule is that after a house has sat unsold for some months, or years, the public has already made up its mind and the house is fair game), but here’s a tip: if you are going to price your house $1 million over its assessed value these days, make sure you have good reason to do so. A four-year-old house that looks and feels tired already, with a mundane exterior and dull interior, is just not going to command a premium. Trust me on this.

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Dealbook: Wall Street phones Obama to remind him who’s boss

And it ain’t him.

President Obama didn’t exactly look thrilled as he stared at the Polycom speakerphone in front of him. “Well, I appreciate you guys calling in,” he began the meeting at the White House with Wall Street’s top brass on Monday.

The next time Wall Street craters and threatens to bring down the world, let’s let them, and see what happens.

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Connecticut’s budget

So who's going to be around in 2015?

Although I fear losing my conservative credentials for admitting this, I’m a listener and supporter of Public Radio, particularly Scott Simon’s Saturday edition of All Things Considered and John Dankosy’s Connecticut Public Radio show, “Where we live”. Dankosky has been looking into the state’s budget mess recently and the news is appalling. Here’s the deal (although I highly recommend you follow the link and listen to the entire broadcast):

Since the inception of the state income tax, our borrowing has increased from 6% of the budget to 11%, one of the highest percentages in the country.

Our projected budget deficit for next year, $3 billion, is half of all anticipated income tax revenues.

By “securitizing” our revenue stream: selling our future income from casinos, the lottery and tobacco settlement money, we have received, and spent, lump sums of cash and now have no income from those sources but must pay interest on the money we did get.

Our present debt is $38 billion. And growing.

So, how do we get out of this mess? Not by listening to Hartford, that’s for sure. A Democrat on the program suggested that the answer was in “creating efficiencies by regionalization” – in other words, restoring the county government system, as New York has done so successfully. The Republicans seem to preach cutting spending yet, faced with a budget that has, even adjusted for inflation, quadrupled since 1987, can’t seem to find anything to cut.

My pal Fudrucker believes that the first politician who is straight with the public and tells them, “here’s the problem, here’s what we have to cut to correct it and let’s rethink our spending once we solve the current crisis” will be elected in a landslide. I think he’s one election cycle too early. We have one more round of denial left, where the Hartford crowd can play math games with the budget and soak the rich again before the citizenry faces the awful truth that there just aren’t enough rich people in Fairfield County to support our profligate ways. The time is coming for truth, but not quite yet.

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We pay these yokels’ salaries

Just a week after coming to the rescue of sports fans by holding hearings on the Bowl Championship Series, Congress is tackling another crucial issue: loud TV ads. Asked whether this was a wise allotment of Congress’s time House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “huh?” Personally, if we really must have these people down in Washington working mischief, I much prefer them to focus their attention on things like football and TV. Keep it up, guys.

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Land for sale, cheap

15 Quaker Lane

These 4 1/2 acres (with a couple of cottages that can be lived in as is) sold for $1.650 million in 2005. The buyer got in financial trouble almost immediately but rather than bite the bullet, he put it back up for sale in 2007 at $2.495 – dumb. Today it’s on the open house list with a price of $1.7 milllion and the notation, [foreclosure] “auction postponed”.

This site has any number of problems, but they can be worked out. It’s got some great land and, at its assessed value of $1.2 million, would be a nice buy. Would the lenders take that little? Who knows? They should, and by postponing the auction, they’ve made it clear they don’t want the property back. I’d go for it.

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But we don’t like to share!

Get your own damn walker!

Greenwich transportation to use New Canaan’s walker.

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The melting pot is dead, courtesy of our NEA

I’ve said this for years, but here’s Micky Kaus and Instapundit saying the same thing and they’re both smarter than I am.

MICKEY KAUS: “Only 33% of *U.S. born* (second-generation) Latino immigrant kids identify themselves first by the term ‘American.’ Most prefer either their country of origin (41%) or the term ‘Latino’ or ‘Hispanic.’ This is supposed to prove Lou Dobbs wrong?”

In previous waves of immigration, we got assimilation because teachers, politicians, media, etc. believed in it, and thought America as it was an indisputably good thing, and thus acted accordingly. This time, they feel differently, and act differently, and so we get different results.

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