Daily Archives: March 5, 2010

The implosion next door

New York goes bust.

At his desk on the Assembly floor, Keith L. T. Wright is asked if he has ever seen it so crazy. His cackle is not reassuring. “Man, I like crazy; I would love crazy,” answers Mr. Wright, a Democratic assemblyman from Manhattan. “Our forefathers in their infinite wisdom planned for crazy. But this week we moved to insane.”

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It’s just this war and that lying son of a bitch Johnson and…

A Berkeley protestor explains.

HOST: Do you have to necessarily resort to violence? I mean in some way your message that you’re trying to send to the regents to an audience out there kinda gets tarnished by the fact that violence has now erupted out.

STUDENT: Well, I think that uh, nobody planned what happened uh early morning on Friday. That that something like that just isn’t even something that becomes planned. But that anger erupts when this situation has been building so long, that that’s what happens. I would really back away from trying to seperate good protesters from bad protesters. It really divides the movement. and um it hurts us trying to get to our final goals.

Just so we have this straight. Tea Partiers peacefully rallying in support of smaller government…those are Nazi racist bigots.

Progressive liberals rioting in the streets of California…that’s acceptable, and shouldn’t be used to paint the whole movement in a negative light.

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What the hell is this?

Western Australia’s idea of a court house, apparently. I blame Bush.

Go figure.


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Walter Alvarez was (probably) right – asteroid killed off the dinosaurs

Ah tol you, the science is settled!

A peer -review of his 1980 work confirms his theory. It always made sense to me, but I’ve wondered – how did Raquel Welch survive?

Thirty years ago, UC Berkeley geologist Walter Alvarez offered his revolutionary answer to that question and incited one of the liveliest controversies in modern science.

Now, an international team of scientists says today the issue is settled: Alvarez was right.

In 1980, Alvarez and his colleagues at Berkeley theorized that a monstrous asteroid 10 miles wide slammed into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula about 65 million years ago and dug a crater 60 miles wide and 15 miles deep. The impact sent up a huge cloud of ash, soot, pulverized rock and sulfurous steam that darkened the skies for years like a nuclear winter, dooming more than half the world’s life on land and in the oceans – microorganisms, plants and animals.

The dinosaurs, those iconic beasts that had ruled the world for 160 million years, also vanished in that long-lasting cataclysm, the Alvarez team maintained.

They found worldwide layers of clay containing the rare metallic element iridium that was scattered by the crashing asteroid; they found the crater caused by the asteroid impact just off the Yucatan Peninsula at Chicxulub (pronounced CHIC-shoo-loob); and they found tiny spherules of shocked quartz both inside the crater and far beyond the crash site, from Australia to Europe.

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Paul Ryan – smartest man in Washington?

Sounds like it – certainly the most honest. Profile here.

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Dumb students

Violence erupts on campuses as students protest tuition hikes. Colleges have increased their fees and tuitions at twice the rate of inflation for decades. These idiot kids should be protesting their greedy, profligate administrations, not squawking that taxpayers have finally had enough. Or failing that, they could just quit and go get jobs, if there are any available.

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More on the dual worlds of Paul Krugman

My earlier posting on James Taranto’s exposure of Krugman’s nonsense on unemployment benefits dredged up a memory of a party I attended as a young naive lad of 23-or so, here in town. The hostess didn’t work and her husband, a construction worker, worked eight months a year, and they vacationed in Florida during the winter months on unemployment checks from the rest of us taxpayers. They thought that was grand – I remember thinking, “someone is being hosed here.”


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Pelosi just lost another ObamaKare vote

You want to take my temperature with what?

Democrat Rep. Massa to quit. In fact, he voted against ObamaKare originally, but only because he wanted a fully-socialized program and didn’t think the Messiah’s plan went far enough, but it’s likely he could have been counted on to push this one home. No more.

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137 years of Popular Science, on line and free


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James Taranto, of the WSJ

Former Enron adviser Paul Krugman takes note in his New York Times column of what he calls “the incredible gap that has opened up between the parties”:

Today, Democrats and Republicans live in different universes, both intellectually and morally.

“What Democrats believe,” he says “is what textbook economics says”:

But that’s not how Republicans see it. Here’s what Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, had to say when defending Mr. Bunning’s position (although not joining his blockade): unemployment relief “doesn’t create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.”

Krugman scoffs: “To me, that’s a bizarre point of view–but then, I don’t live in Mr. Kyl’s universe.”

What does textbook economics have to say about this question? Here is a passage from a textbook called “Macroeconomics“:

Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect. . . . In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker’s incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of “Eurosclerosis,” the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.

So it turns out that what Krugman calls Sen. Kyl’s “bizarre point of view” is, in fact, textbook economics. The authors of that textbook are Paul Krugman and Robin Wells. Miss Wells is also known as Mrs. Paul Krugman.


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Micro managing Government Motors

GM caves in to pressure from its new owners, rescinds closings of 661 dealerships. Nothing more politicaly powerful than a car dealer and Congress let GM know it.


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Sale price disclosed

16 Hope Farm Rd

16 Hope Farm Road, which went under contract in January, closed today for $2.2 million. It spent 471 days on the market, and was first listed for $3.395 million. Ouch. A really nice house, albeit perched in a swamp and I think at $2.2 someone got themselves a deal. Assessment is $2.345 million.

Depending on where this market goes in the next year or two, naturally.


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We’re not tearing up the pea patch

This is normally an active week in Greenwich real estate but so far this week just four single family houses have gone to contract and three more reported as pending. And look what’s selling:

Address             final asking price                original asking price                 Days on market

310 Stanwich       $2.650                               $3.195                                                  537

17 Fairgreen         $1.295                               $1.875                                                  350

17 Edgewater        $949,000                                                                                       115

41 Owenoke           $1.735                                                                                              39

38 Frontier             $1.495                                                                                            232

14 Francine             $1.149                                                                                                 7

26 Cedarwood         $4.995                              $7.950                                              1,058

My point being that the only expensive house that sold was the bank’s short sale on Cedarwood at a price reflecting the loss of at least a million dollars – probably more.

Of the 556 single family homes currently for sale her, 360 of them are priced above $2 million. We’ve either got to pick up the pace or settle in for a nice long snooze.


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Foreclosure auction?

142 Cat Rock

I just noticed that this place was advertised for a foreclosure auction last February 20th. Anyone know whether it went forward?


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Circle game

Fannie Mae wants to return $21 billion in defective mortgages to their originating banks this year. Nothing wrong with that in theory but in practice, there’s a difficulty:

The government’s efforts might be counterproductive, since the Treasury and Federal Reserve are trying to help banks heal, FBR’s Miller said. The banks have to buy back the loans at par, and then take an impairment, because borrowers usually have stopped paying and the price of the underlying home has plunged. JPMorgan said in a presentation last month that it loses about 50 cents on the dollar for every loan it has to buy back.

Striking a Balance

“It’s a fine line you’re walking, because the government’s trying to recapitalize the banks, not put them in bankruptcy, and then here’s Fannie and Freddie putting more pressure on the banks through these buybacks,” FBR’s Miller said. “If it becomes too big of an issue, the banks are going to complain to Congress, and they’re going to stop it.”


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Come over here, sonny – want to see my new puppy?

Eleven year old boy buys nine mansions in Dubai for $44 million. He could have spent his time more efficiently by shopping in Greenwich. (Apparently, the kid’s the son of the President of Azerbaijan, a country not known for fierce insistence on  ethical behavior by its rulers. So I could find him a nice place on Round Hill Road – he’d feel right at home..)


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Someday, sellers’ logic will be revealed to me

477 Stanwich Rd

Price reduced today from $1.799 to $1.769 million. Why bother? Nothing wrong with the house: sits on 4 acres, is assessed at $1.842 million, etc., but sellers should understand that, assuming my buyers are typical, they aren’t thinking in bids $30,000 off list – I’d tell you how much more aggressive than that they are but it would break your heart.

I’ll just suggest this: if your house isn’t selling at its current price and you want to attract bids, get out the meat axe.


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It’s boom time for Pittsburgh real estate! (until the end of the article)

It must really suck having to write about real estate for a paper supported by real estate advertisers. Here’s a puff piece from the ketchup state that buries the lede in the concluding paragraph.

“Pittsburgh real estate agents prepare for Spring Rush” La de dah de lah, almost endlessly, until we find this:

Some local agents haven’t seen the number of new homebuyers they expected.

Sandy Rutkowski, an agent with Forest Hills-based RE/MAX Heritage Real Estate, touts the tax credit as free money and icing on the cake. But she said the program is overshadowed by a variety of issues and believes the Pittsburgh market has yet to fully bottom out.

For one, stricter credit standards and declining appraisal values are making it harder to get sales closed. Rutkowski said she’s had eight sales fall through in the past three months because the appraisals weren’t high enough to justify the mortgage. Getting private mortgage insurance can be another obstacle, she said.

She also sees a housing market chastened by bad news and describes a job that’s much harder than it used to be.


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In the absence of any real estate news, this is cool

The Jets just traded for Antonio Cromartie. The defense is going to be even more awesome next fall.


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The science is settled!

The earth is NOT moving, ya dumb Ahole!

A scientist attacked for his doubts about AGW thinks of an earlier example.

The book by Nicholas Copernicus of Torun was printed not long ago and published in recent days. In it he tries to revive the teaching of certain Pythagoreans concerning the Earth’s motion, a teaching which had died out in times long past.

Nobody accepts it now except Copernicus. [Copernicus is] an expert in mathematics and astronomy, but he is very deficient in physics. … Hence, since Copernicus does not understand physics … it is not surprising if he is mistaken in this opinion and accepts the false as true, through ignorance of those sciences … it is stupid to contradict a belief accepted by everyone over a very long time for extremely strong reasons, unless the naysayer uses more powerful and incontrovertible proofs, and completely rebuts the opposed reasoning.

Copernicus does not do this at all. For he does not undermine the proofs, establishing necessary conclusions, advanced by Aristotle the philosopher and Ptolemy the astronomer.Aristotle absolutely destroyed the arguments of the Pythagoreans. Yet this is not adduced by Copernicus in his ignorance of it.

Almost all the hypotheses of this author Copernicus contain something false, and very many absurdities follow from them. … For by a foolish effort [Copernicus] tries to revive the contrived Pythagorean belief, long since deservedly buried, since it explicitly contradicts human reason.


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