Daily Archives: February 4, 2010

Spray-on nano-glass, for everything!

Neato. InstaPundit’s got the story.

The liquid glass spray produces a water-resistant coating only around 100 nanometers (15-30 molecules) thick. On this  the glass is highly flexible and breathable. The coating is environmentally harmless and non-toxic, and easy to clean using only water or a simple wipe with a damp cloth. It repels bacteria, water and dirt, and resists heat,  and even acids. UK project manager with Nanopool, Neil McClelland, said soon almost every product you purchase will be coated with liquid glass.

Food processing companies in Germany have already carried out trials of the spray, and found sterile surfaces that usually needed to be cleaned with strong bleach to keep them sterile needed only a hot water rinse if they were coated with liquid glass. The levels of sterility were higher for the glass-coated surfaces, and the surfaces remained sterile for months.

Other organizations, such as a train company and a hotel chain in the UK, and a hamburger chain in Germany, are also testing liquid glass for a wide range of uses. A year-long trial of the spray in a Lancashire hospital also produced “very promising” results for a range of applications including coatings for equipment, medical implants, catheters, sutures and bandages. The war graves association in the UK is investigating using the spray to treat stone monuments and grave stones, since trials have shown the coating protects against weathering and graffiti. Trials in Turkey are testing the product on monuments such as the Ataturk Mausoleum in Ankara.

The liquid glass coating is breathable, which means it can be used on plants and seeds. Trials in vineyards have found spraying vines increases their resistance to fungal diseases, while other tests have shown sprayed seeds germinate and grow faster than untreated seeds, and coated wood is not attacked by termites. Other vineyard applications include coating corks with liquid glass to prevent “corking” and contamination of wine. The spray cannot be seen by the naked eye, which means it could also be used to treat clothing and other materials to make them stain-resistant. McClelland said you can “pour a bottle of wine over an expensive silk shirt and it will come right off”.

In the home, spray-on glass would eliminate the need for scrubbing and make most cleaning products obsolete. Since it is available in both water-based and alcohol-based solutions, it can be used in the oven, in bathrooms, tiles, sinks, and almost every other surface in the home, and one spray is said to last a year.

Liquid glass spray is perhaps the most important nanotechnology product to emerge to date. It will be available in DIY stores in Britain soon, with prices starting at around £5 ($8 US). Other outlets, such as many supermarkets, may be unwilling to stock the products because they make enormous profits from cleaning products that need to be replaced regularly, and liquid glass would make virtually all of them obsolete.


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Are “experts” really this clueless?

Month after month, dismal economic reports continue to “surprise experts”. Who are these guys, and do they ever get out onto the street? I’ll admit to being a bit of a recluse myself (I did try to find Bloomingdale’s Stamford branch the other day, but failed) but, just as a for instance, I was in the chicken place today and listened to a fellow customer, an experienced restaurateur, complaining that he’d found a great spot for a new place in Stamford for his next restaurant but four banks would only offer him between $10 – $15,000 as a start-up loan. This for someone with a solid track record and a great credit history. So no new restaurant, no new jobs. We plebes know that – what is it about economists that they keep getting surprised?


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Freund: “We fired the guy just for the hell of it.”

Greenwich School Superintendent Sydney Freund denies that he fired Director of Facilities Anthony Byrne for cause. “There’s no truth that Byrne was taking kick-backs or bribes as all these bloggers are speculating,” Freund insisted. “It’s just that I woke up one morning, discovered that my newspaper hadn’t been delivered, my goddamned wife burnt my friggin’ oatmeal and my kid left the bath water running. I figured, someone’s got to pay for this, and decided I’d suspend Byrne without pay. That made me feel so much better that, a month later, when the aquarium people screwed up and killed my neons, I just called up Byrne and told him not to come back, ever. Made my whole day brighter, let me tell you.”


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The real estate columnist for Greenwich Post says that “60% of mortgages nation-wide are entering  the foreclosure process.”  I don’t think that’s so, but she gives no source so I can’t check it out. If her number is anything close to being accurate, fill your bathtub with water, stock up on ammunition and get out those MREs, but again, I don’t think she’s right.


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Two competing listings on Owenoke

A reader asked about these two Riverside houses, both listed by the same broker, Cleveland, Duble & Arnold. Here’s my take:

41 Owenoke

41 Owenoke is appraised at $1.312 million, is asking $1.735 or $$578 for each of its 3,000 square foot. Lot size is 0.40 and, in my strictly -personal opinion, I’d give it an “eh”.

25 Owenoke

25 Owenoke has 0.8 of an acre, 6,818 square feet and, at its current price of $2. 637 million, seeks $386 per square foot. Assessment is $2.584. From an original asking price (in 2005) of $4.250, I think it’s come down much closer to reality than its neighbor.

By way of disclosure, my brother Gideon is a co-broker on this house but I hope that, by now, readers trust me not to pull punches because of personal interest – besides, Gideon gives me nothing when I plug his stuff. Why just last summer, when my birthday rolled around ….
Anyway: household budgets are what they are and we can all stretch only so far but, if you have the money to buy either of these and want to live on Owenoke, I think 25 offers the better value, right now.


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Lear Jet Liberals

Professor Althouse disses Yale:

“Yale University announced on Wednesday that it planned a number of steps to close a remaining $150 million budget gap, including cutting staff, freezing salaries for deans and officers, reducing the number of graduate students — even turning down all thermostats to 68 degrees.”

Even turning down all thermostats to 68 degrees? Even?!

Sorry about your budget gap, but why the hell did you have winter thermostat settings above 68°? Even — even — if you have money to burn, you should want to keep temperatures at least that low for health and comfort. And I do not believe that the people who run Yale think that there’s such a thing as anthropogenic global warming worth worrying a damn about. In fact, if you actually thought cutting carbon emissions was important, your thermostats would already be at 62° or lower. If you thought AGW is an emergency — of the sort Al Gore warns us about —you’d set the thermostat at 52° or lower.

Good lord, you’re firing people from their jobs! Why are you still roasting the place to 68°?!


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Millions for a snippet of a tune?

Write this down, would you?

Aussie judge rules that Men at Work lifted tune of “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree” for their own hit. Well yes, of course they did – I recognized the theme when the song came out in the 80’s, but so what? “Down Under” was as far removed from “Kookaburra” as I was from fourth grade music class when we first sang about that dumb bird. That’s how music grows – the band incorporated a song universally recognized as Australian and made up their own. I know nothing about Australian copyright law, but this is a crazy ruling from a perspective of common sense.


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Then there’s work still do do

Politico: Republican establishment still rules.

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This will do it

New York Times: Details scarce as Democrats unveil “job bill”. These people are clueless, but ever hopeful that they can legislate their way to creating jobs.

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Who knew? Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania!

State capital mulls bankruptcy. We had to memorize all fifty state capitals in Miss Holme’s Fifth Grade class at Riverside School back in 1963-64, but I don’t believe I’ve thought about the city since. Where the hell is it, anyway?


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With Bush gone, Democrats discover the beauty of Guantanamo Bay

Nothing like an approaching election to concentrate the mind.

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No open houses of note

This is getting curious; the spring market should be upon us, yet there’s nothing coming on. Which indicates that sellers are not desperate and won’t sell in a down market, so so much for my theory of impending foreclosures, eh?

Whatever the reason, I’m saving on gas these days. I did travel up north to see why a house that sold new for $4 million in 2000 was now asking $8. The answer eluded me because, other than being ten years older, I saw no improvement. Another listing to forget about and revisit in a year or two. Other than that, nothing.


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The Greenwich Association of Realtors is here to serve you

Yesterday I forked over my check of $517 for a half-year’s dues to the GAR, not to be confused with its sibling, the Greenwich Multiple Listing Service , which exists solely to foist an obsolete technology on us agents while barring agents from other towns from showing your house. Ah, sweet monopoly! The GMLS collects thousands of dollars from us to maintain this barrier to competition.

So anyway, I was just wondering what I got for my GAR dues when I was reminded by the receipt today of a registered letter from that august organization confirming my official reprimand for writing this blog, fining me $1,000 (suspended depending on good behavior) and ordering me to an ethics class where presumably I will encounter someone other than my last instructor, who thought my blog was both ethical and in the finest tradition of the National Realtors Association. That sap wasn’t from Greenwich and thus not attuned to our town’s finer sensitivities. No doubt our GAR will improve on its choice this year.

But here’s my problem: can I really sink so low that I can meet the GAR standards of practice? Yes, I practiced law for two decades, so I’m not unaware of deceit and duplicity, but lower-than-a-snake’s-belly low? Realtor low? That’s tough. Can I deliberately lie to a client and over-price his house by several million dollars in order to get a listing? Can I tell a buyer that an asking price is fair and reasonable when the  real reason for my advice is that the listing agent and I have children together in pre-school and I don’t want to hurt her feelings? Can I file false reports of sale with the GMLS? Destroy sales histories? Cheat fellow agents out of commissions? In short, am I really GAR material?

I don’t know, but I’m going to try. After all Nancy Healy, an otherwise reputable person, signed that GAR letter of reprimand to me, and if she can do that with feigned good faith, is it below me to at least try sinking to her level?


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The new king has his own candidate

Blumenthal to Susan Bysiewicz : drop dead. Our Secretary of State was hoping to succeed Blumenthal as Atorney General but he’s just told her that she lacks the experience to qualify.  So who does the current AG have in mind? He’s not saying but surely, after thirty years chomping at the bit waiting for his chance to be Senator, he’s got a minion ready-to-hand.

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World could end, or not

Greenwich Time: storm expected to pass by, but that could change. Thanks.

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Vanderbilt Muslim chaplain: death to gays!

Converting gay teen-agers the Iranian way

Sorry, but it’s in the good book”. Vanderbilt says it’s all about dialogue. “The university is dedicated to the free exchange of ideas. It is the belief of the university community that free discussion of ideas can lead to resolution and reconciliation.”

I suggest that some “dialogues” aren’t worth having. And how’s this fellow feel about the presence of girls on campus? Chop off their heads, eh? “Can we talk?”

Do you remember the national outrage unleashed by our press on Bob Jone’s University’s ban on inter-racial dating? We’ll see nothing like that here, because well, it’s just those crazy wog muslims, isn’t it?

There’s a problem with the bigotry of soft expectations. It’s fine when applied to the darkies, who are expected to become wards of the Democrats. So an 80% illegitimate birth rate, a 70% high school drop out rate, most of the males in prison, all okay – what racist Democrat could demand or want more? But the muslims are a different kettle of fish – they are here to kill us – to eradicate our Judeo-Christian ethical system and impose their own, which includes a bloody death by sword to infidels: that would be us.

The trouble with liberals is that they don’t believe what the muslims say: “If they come to know us, they’ll love us.” Well no, that’s not what’s happening, and when universities like Vanderbilt tolerate the presence of these hate mongers and enemies of western civilization they just hasten our demise.


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We are so screwed, continued

Governor Rell offers a budget that does nothing to cut spending – Democrats cheer.

Bingo, casinos and parties – that’s the ticket!

The Republican governor’s package, which needs approval by the veto-proof Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, would reduce spending by less than $28 million in the $18.9 billion budget that takes effect July 1.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, a former Democratic state senator who attended the address, said afterward that he was optimistic. “I think there are a lot of things to be hopeful in the budget in very difficult times,” he said in an interview on the crowded House floor.

“I think the bottom line is the public’s ready to throw us out if we don’t make jobs,” Finch said.

How bad have we been to deserve this government? Government does not “make” jobs, Mayor Finch. All it can do is try to restrain its greed enough to let productive people do their magic. You don’t get it, nor does the rest of your party.

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FHA going down?

BusinessInsider, which does have a tendency to panic, nonetheless has a good article on the dire prospects of the FHA and the mortgages it’s guaranteeing. The FHA admits that up to a quarter (!) of its loans made in 2007 and 2008 will default but claims that its solvency is assured because the loans they made beginning in 2009 were to much more creditworthy borrowers. BI is skeptical, as am I.

That one thing is the FHA’s assertion that the loans in backed in 2009 are much, much better than the loans it was back in 2007 and 2008. That seems highly unlikely.

In the first place, the FHA’s book of business expanded at a pace that is truly breath-taking. Although we don’t have the final numbers yet, we know the FHA probably insured more than 2 million single-family mortgages in fiscal year 2009, compared with 1.2 million in fiscal year 2008, and 639,000 in fiscal year 2007. Meanwhile, the number of FHA staff grew by just 80 people last year.Do you think that the FHA was really able to properly monitor for fraud and risk as the portfolio grew at that pace?

The FHA also thinks that a good part of the growth last year was among higher quality buyers. That is partly true—the average credit score is up to 690 from 630. But credit scores have proven an unreliable indicator for mortgage default rates. While people with higher credit scores are less likely to default than those with lower credit, that is a relative measure. It tells us nothing about the absolute likelihood of default.

In other words, the FHA is betting on a housing recovery. If mortgage foreclosures spike, the FHA could discover that people with a credit score of 690 in 2009 default at rates higher than people who had a credit score of 630 in 2008. That’s what it means to say that credit score is a relative predictor instead of an absolute.

There is good reason to doubt FHA’s assertion about the quality of its borrowers. Many of the borrowers were first time home buyers with brief (and therefore less reliable) credit histories. At one point last year, around 50% of all first time home buyers were having their loans backed by the FHA. Many of those buyers were able to purchase their home with almost no down payment—thanks to the home buyer tax credit.

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