Daily Archives: December 25, 2009

50 ugliest cars ever?

Hard to argue with any of these picks. Glad to see that goddamned Prius is included, though.


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This is why we need newspapers like the New York Times

Their intrepid reporters find heretofore -undiscovered neighborhoods like Chickahominy, which is apparently somewhere west of Greenwich proper and east of Port Chester – perhaps in Cos Cob, although the reporter is vague on the precise location. But this is fascinating, and I intend to explore out that way when time permits. An entire neighborhood – who knew?


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Friends of Bernie Brigade

I think the wold of Bernie Yudain, and I always thought my affection for him showed through in my teasing. But I heard that some of his other fans thought I was being mean to the old coot, and, worried that I might have mis-read our relationship, I dropped him a note Christmas Eve kissing his skinny butt and saying how sorry I was if I’d hurt his feelings. Turns out, I haven’t, so we can go back at it.

There are those of us who, kind hearted souls that we are, would never say anything really cruel if we thought it could be interpreted as true: witness Bernie’s comment about his son, to an interviewer: “Take him, if you want him”. A reader told me she’d never look at Bernie in the same way again because of his cold words and I had to assure her that, just as I am wont to do, he was friggin’ kidding, for crimminy sake.

So anyway, Bernie’s fair game again, but I hope his other friends – both of them – will understand that he gives as well as he gets and it’s just funning. Now, talk to me about the Greenwich Police Department ….

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Imagine if we had enjoyed Ralph Nader’s presence in the 1880s

Article today in Greenwich Time on a house for sale at 390 North Street. I don’t have much to say about the house itself, other than the owners and I hold different views as to its value, but I was intrigued to learn that the site once hosted a house by an electrical pioneer and ally of Thoms Edison. Edison promoted direct current while my own ancestor, John Caldwell, worked with the Westinghouse brothers to popularize alternating current. AC won out but not before Edison travelled the country pulling stunts like electrocuting an elephant to demonstrate the danger of alternating current.

None of which has anything to do with the house now on the site except that the original building burned down in 1903. I’m pretty sure that, had Nader and his fellows been around when geniuses were building this country, we’d still be living in swamps. Could still end up back in that unhappy state, too.

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Time to declare victory and get rich?

War on dugs a bust.


In the 40 years since U.S. President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs,” the supply and use of drugs has not changed in any fundamental way. The only difference: a taxpayer bill of more than $1 trillion.

A senior Mexican official who has spent more than two decades helping fight the government’s war on drugs summed up recently what he’s learned from his long career: “This war is not winnable.”

Tax it, eliminate the profit, and quit. Makes sense to me.

Growing numbers of Mexican and U.S. officials say—at least privately—that the biggest step in hurting the business operations of Mexican cartels would be simply to legalize their main product: marijuana. Long the world’s most popular illegal drug, marijuana accounts for more than half the revenues of Mexican cartels.

“Economically, there is no argument or solution other than legalization, at least of marijuana,” said the top Mexican official matter-of-factly. The official said such a move would likely shift marijuana production entirely to places like California, where the drug can be grown more efficiently and closer to consumers. “Mexico’s objective should be to make the U.S. self-sufficient in marijuana,” he added with a grin.


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What aren’t we getting here?

Nigerian on “n0-fly” list tries, fails to blow up plane.

Registered sex offender kidnaps, kills 11-year-old girl.

Vatican to review security after woman attacks Pope twice in two years.


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Matt Drudge and I have a different view of Christmas


Kiss kiss



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Those top bunks are treacherous!

Madoff fell out of bed, suffering a broken nose, ribs, punctured lung and other injuries. You know, our prisons aren’t supposed to be torture chambers. Rape, physical assaults and the like shouldn’t happen – Mr. Madoff isn’t going to end up on anyone’s favorite list of persons this Christmas, but this shouldn’t happen. Not in our country.


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It’s not about global warming

Zimbabwe continues its descent into hell. You may, or may not, recall that our Copenhagen representatives gave over their time for Robert Mugabe to lecture the west on its responsibility to save his country from himself.  Sorry Bub, ain’t gonna happen.

CHEGUTU, Zimbabwe (AP) — Rainbow’s End got its name from its bumper crops of grain, fruit and vegetables. But now the pot of gold is empty. Most of the land is derelict and cut off by a collapsed bridge.

Once one of the most productive farms in this troubled southern African nation, Rainbow’s End will have very little to harvest next season, even as farmers’ organizations forecast huge crop shortfalls and the U.N. says 2 million Zimbabweans — nearly one-fourth of the population — will need food aid in January.

President Robert Mugabe’s campaign to run Zimbabwe’s whites off their farms and redistribute them to the black majority continues despite the expectation that being forced into a coalition government with the opposition would at least partially restrain him, restore agriculture and protect human rights.

Since the coalition was formed in February, at least 100 more white farmers have been driven off their land. Of about 300 still farming, more than half have been served official eviction notices. Since August, Thomas Beattie, who farmed near Rainbow’s End, has been under siege by militants and men he calls hired thugs, and was forced to leave his home in November at the height of the planting season.”The attitude on the ground is still that white farmers need to go. That is the reality,” said Deon Theron, head of the Commercial Farmers’ Union, most of whose members are white.He said those in Mugabe’s long-ruling ZANU-PF party who want change ”are powerless against the old guard who want to maintain what they have been doing.”

Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe won independence from Britain in 1980, argues that the land was plundered by the country’s European colonizers and needs to be redistributed. At his lavish 85th birthday party in February, Mugabe declared that the ”few remaining white farmers should quickly vacate their farms as they have no place there.”Under the land seizure program he launched in 2000, more than 11 million hectares (25 million acres) of commercial farmland have been seized from thousands of whites.

But their new occupants often are chosen not for their farming skills but for being party loyalists, and they have failed to replicate the highly efficient, mechanized farming system that made Zimbabwe a breadbasket for Southern Africa.According to satellite surveys, as much as 80 percent of former prime land lies uncultivated.It already includes much of Beattie’s original farm, 100 kilometers (60 miles) southwest of Harare, the capital. Unpruned tree roots are breaking up the 16 kilometer (10 mile) irrigation canal he built. A packing shed for citrus exports has been looted and Bright Matonga, a former minister in Mugabe’s party, uses it as a cowshed.Power outages are frequent, and trees and brushes have been denuded for firewood. Glum and menacing occupiers barricade the farm gate but let in Beattie’s wife, Sue, to feed the dogs.”It’s so sad. Sometimes the dogs don’t seem to recognize us anymore,” she said.

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Christmas Day!

The Fountain kids are all grown, so the 5:00 AM pent-up excitement is deferred, now, until sometime after noon (Sarah? You awake?). Plans here are for prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, fresh bread, and spice cake. Some of us (but not Sarah) are up early, getting ready.

The prime rib was bought seven days ago at Food Mart, on sale, and has been air-drying in the refrigerator since. I learned the trick from Cook’s Illustrated years ago and it works -buy decent, but not air-dried beef ahead of time, and do it yourself, thereby saving around 50 bucks on a prime rib. In an hour or so, I’ll slice the meat from the ribs. brown the former, tie it all back together again and roast at 200 degrees for awhile. Good stuff.

I’m trying Yorkshire pudding in muffin tins this year – sounds good, and Pal Nancy gave me a gift certificate to the cooking supply store on Arcadia last Christmas so I used it this year to purchase the muffin tin (and other things – Nancy isn’t that cheap) necessary to make individual puddings.

The bread is being prepared according to the no-knead recipe first popularized by Marc Bittman in the NY Times. Too late to prepare this for today if you haven’t started yet but I’ve been baking bread since I was ten and, hands down, this is the best, easiest recipe I’ve ever encountered. Try it.

The last minute addition of my favorite and beloved cousins from Westchester County to our dinner necessitated an addition to the meat arsenal, so I’ve thawed out one of Bambi’s backstraps (tenderloins) and will grill it outdoors at the last minute.

Then there’s a spice cake recipe, again from Cook’s Illustrated, that looks delicious, so I’ve tossed that into the menu, too. Days like these make me envy those Back Country kitchens with two ovens. But we will make do and of course, I have the advantage of Pal Nancy two houses up our little street so there’s an oven there for scalloped potatoes and whatever else we’re doing.

So I’m off to cook – Merry Christmas to all of you, of all religions and varying states of faith. Nothing wrong with celebrating family, love, and charity for all. Tomorrow, I get mean again.


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Why would you want this on your wrist?


Speaking of watches, reader KC, responding to Horsejock, writes that he’s heard that the Maybach is expensive and heavy and expresses doubts he’d want to wear one. Looking at this three-ton beauty, I’d have to agree.


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Yugoslavians in Fargo? Sheesh.

Here’s a fascinating bit of news from Fargo that indicates something, although I’m not sure what that is.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) – A Fargo man now admits to trying to kidnap a Kentucky girl and bring her back to North Dakota. Dragan Jovanovic plead guilty to unlawful transaction with a minor in a Bowling Green courtroom Monday.

Police say he and Elvis Tahirovic, tried to sign out a 14-year old girl from a Bowling Green middle school last September. They wanted to drive her back to Fargo to marry Jovanovic’s son.

Jovanovic faces three years in prison and could be deported by the INS when sentenced in January. Tahirovic is charged with kidnapping and has his next court appearance in Kentucky also in January.

Dragan? Elvis? 14-year-olds marrying? I feel as though I’m reading a John Le Carre novel.

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Shortest news article of the year?

What to do in Lincoln, Nebraska Christmas Day. There’s a big sale on snow shovels down at Ace, though – you betcha!

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No, not the Onion, the Wall Street Journal

Deranged woman, following up her unsuccessful attempt last year, knocks down Pope, breaks leg of elderly Cardinal, ruins Texan tourist’s photo-op.

MaryBeth Burns from Paris, Texas, was about four people away from the woman who jumped the barriers and was filming the pope’s procession as the commotion started.

“I’m really mad because I had a perfect shot lined up,” she said. “I’m still shaking.”

The rain falls on the just and unjust alike, MaryBeth – ain’t it a bitch?

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Unfortunately, Valbella’s won’t be available

Junior Gotti invites jurors who sprung him to dinner.


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