Daily Archives: February 5, 2010

Good news for snow lovers – we’ve got a storm coming next week.

I love snowstorms (and hurricanes, but I can’t hope to get them in February) so I was a little miffed that the big storm hitting Washington isn’t going to make it up north to us. But I do have a full day of house showings scheduled for tomorrow, so that tempers my disappointment and now Accuweather says we’ve got a big bruiser headed our way mid-week. Neato!

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It’s quiet out there – too quiet!

I left my Windows machine at 2:00 today and thus lost access to the MLS but, as of 2:00, there was no real estate news to report. Strange – things were quite busy the first few weeks of January and then … nothing. I personally am working with several clients all ready to buy and, multiplying that by all the other agents I know who are busy would make you think we’re okay. But where are the contracts and where are the new listings?

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Autism and vaccines

You probably read that the British Lancet has completely disavowed its article of a decade ago that set off the panic among some parents and caused vaccine rates to fall. The Onion responds by getting opinions from the man in the street.

UPDATE: for a serious response, I highly recommend the Canadian Margaret Went  at Globe & Mail

The vaccination hysteria proved contagious. In Canada and the U.S., anti-vaccination groups warned about the dangers of thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines (although never used in the MMR one). Parent groups blamed vaccines and environmental toxins for what they said was an autism epidemic. They launched multimillion-dollar lawsuits (all unsuccessful) against vaccine makers, whose product costs, because of legal bills, went up.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. accused the U.S. government and top scientists of a vast conspiracy to cover up the link between vaccines and autism, and celebrity autism mom Jenny McCarthy argued the case on Oprah .

It’s hard to blame parents of autistic kids for grasping at causes and cures. The causes are poorly understood, and the chance of cure is exceedingly remote. Life with an autistic child is unrelentingly hard. Untested treatments, and claims of cure, run rampant. The field is prone to “pseudoscience and quackery,” says Michael Fitzgerald, a British autism expert and long-time critic of Dr. Wakefield.

Since the Lancet study was published, mountains of scientific studies have found no link between vaccines and autism. In a series of investigative articles published several years ago, Britain’s Sunday Times reported that Dr. Wakefield had been secretly working on a rival vaccine and that he had been paid more than £400,000 by British trial lawyers trying to prove that the existing vaccine was dangerous. And yet it took until this week for The Lancet to retract Dr. Wakefield’s study. It did so only after Britain’s General Medical Council held an exhaustive inquiry and condemned him for acting dishonestly and irresponsibly.

It’s doubtful The Lancet’s retraction will have much effect, because the damage has already been done. “It’s very easy to scare people; it’s very hard to unscare them,” Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told The Wall Street Journal. In fact, activists say Dr. Wakefield’s credibility will strengthen among those who are convinced the truth is being covered up. “The deep and profound censorship occurring around autism science reaches depths that few casual observers can imagine,” wrote Mark Blaxill, a director of the autism group SafeMinds. “I have proof.”

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My dream date with Hooper draws nearer

Sorry, little fellow, but I have to let you go

Madoff boys agree to asset freeze. I’m sure Hoops is an understanding sort of girl, but you can’t do much Seychelles fly fishing on five hundred bucks a month.

Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) — Andrew and Mark Madoff, whose father Bernard is serving 150 years in prison for the largest-ever Ponzi scheme, agreed to restrict movement of their own personal assets, not incur debt beyond $1,000 and give a monthly accounting of their expenses.

Peter and Shana Madoff Swanson, Bernard’s brother and niece, signed similar agreements with the trustee liquidating the con man’s estate, Irving Picard, according to documents filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.

Picard, who is unwinding Madoff’s defunct investment firm and gathering assets to help pay customers, sued Andrew, Mark, Peter and Shana in October, claiming they spent almost $199 million of victims’ money and treated the investment firm as their personal bank.

The Madoffs said in court papers that they deny Picard’s allegations and dispute his right to restrict their assets. They are consenting to the asset freeze to avoid “the potential costs and expenses of the instant dispute,” which could prove “substantial,” according to the filings.

The asset restrictions prevent the Madoffs and their representatives from selling, leveraging, wasting or moving all their property that is worth more than $1,000, “except for wearing personal clothing and jewelry in the normal course.” The must also take “reasonable” steps to preserve the value of their possessions, according to the filings.

30 Days

In addition, they agreed to disclose their finances to Picard within 30 days. Their monthly accounting of expenses requires them to document all items costing more than $500.

UPDATE: Pappa Bernie’s NYC penthouse is reported under contract. All that’s left to get rid of is the Florida property, and that’s going to take awhile.

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Ever watch a political party tear itself apart?

Politico: Democrat liberals balk at Obama’s move toward center.

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Someone’s making money on the Street today

Down at the bell, back over 10,000, now off the cliff again. Should be an interesting day.

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A contract

3 Roger Drive (off S. Baldwin) is a 2002 renovation of a 1966 house. It sold for $5 million back in 2005 and was relisted a year ago for $4.995. No takers, so the price dropped to $3.750 and today it’s got a contract. Assessment is $3.5 and that’s pretty close to the mark, in my opinion.

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Back on the market

26 Summit Rd

A builder paid $1.1 million for this lot in Riverside back in 2007, built new and tried to get $2.495 for it. When he couldn’t,  despite a price cut or two, he rented it out and now it’s come back on the market at $2.095. I remember it as a pretty nice house, with an okay backyard (non-railroad side of the street) and a decent value when it dropped to $2.1. Of course, that was a different market, but the quality of the house is the same. I’d recommend your taking a look if you’re in this price range in Riverside.

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Cops gone wild

NYC cops arrest 12-year-old for doodling on her school desk. “We called over to Greenwich to see if they’d come tase her,” Police Sergent Timothy Keegan told FWIW’s Scusi, “but they said their guns were all being recharged. The did offer to send a dog around to bite her, but we decided to go with the handcuffs and jail cell route – what the hell, she’s a first-time offender.”

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Back on the market, pedal to the metal

So solly!

918 North Street, built with Toyota money, didn’t sell last year for $16.9 million so it’s back with a new broker and a new price of $15.9. Assessment is $6.

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Something to ponder

From Calculated Risk, via BusinessInsider, a chart:

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I blame Bush!

Windmill turbines, installed to fight global warming, freeze in the cold.

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