Daily Archives: January 4, 2012

Even the New York Times denounces Obummer’s recess appointment

A sneaky end run and an abuse of power

The White House regularly accuses Senate Republicans of unfairly blocking the president’s nominees, and it is true that one determined senator can freeze an appointment. But Mr. Obama’s record in this area owes less to unreasonable Republicans than to the low caliber of some of his choices, his disinterest in bipartisan consensus and his aversion to any form of accountability, whether to the Senate, the courts or the public.

Update: Aw, someone else thought of this too. (But I was on top of it even earlier than he).

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Famous or not, he probably didn’t say it

"Shut up", he explained

The WSJ: ” Abraham Lincoln famously observed, ‘it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.’ ” Great sentiments, but reading it just now, I was nagged by the dim memory that this quote was most famous for being erroneously attributed to Lincoln and not because he actually said it. This guy agrees:

Searches on “better to keep your mouth closed” and “better to remain silent” (using the quotation marks in both cases) turned up numerous web pages, all offering different versions of the phrase. Some sources quoted the saying as “It’s far better…”, some substituted the words “stupid,” “ignorant,” or “simpleton” for the word “fool,” and still others twisted the saying into an almost unrecognizable form.

A page titled Mark Twain and the Mutating Quote attributed at least four variations of the same phrase to the eminently quotable Twain, explaining that it was a case of “split personality” that accounted for the variations, rather than a rash of misquotes.

Other pages suggested a number of other authors for the saying, including: Abraham LincolnGeorge EliotGroucho MarxAlbert Einstein, and a mysterious figure named Silvan Engel.

In an attempt to solve this proverbial puzzle, we paid a visit toBartleby.com, home to the online version of Familiar Quotations. Unfortunately, after searching on a number of possible keywords and potential authors, we couldn’t find a single reference to this quote.

All the confusion and disagreement surrounding both the author and the wording of this saying led us to suspect that it may be a simple maxim, not attributable to any single person — which is not to question its wisdom.


Editor’s Note: Thanks to all of our scholarly and well-read readers who wrote in to suggest Proverbs 17:28 as a possible source of this quote.

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Government Motors shocks it to taxpayers

Manages to sell 1,500 Volts in December, its best volume yet but also proof of the insignificance of the electric car to our national energy needs. Who, other than municipal governments spending other people’s money, would buy this abortion? It takes 8 hours to refuel – try that one at your neighborhood gas station – costs $40,000, even after we taxpayers pitch in a $7,000 subsidy and it doesn’t work in cold weather – well it will, but only if you’re willing to forego cabin heat and a defroster so that the battery will last long enough to get you home. This is the future Obummer has promised and is now delivering.

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Dingletown modular sells

16 Dingletown closed for $5.6 million, which is close to where I predicted it would sell when it was new to the market in 2008 and asking $9 million (check with Gideon – I believe we had a bet on this). A nice house and a good yard. If I recall, it lacked a separate closet for the woman of the house which is a serious drawback for homes in this price range but really, the only thing holding it back from a quick sale was that first price. Builders paid $2.250 for the land (1.6 acres) in 2007, so perhaps that accounts for their reluctance to price it right to begin with.

Two points: modular homes can command an excellent price; EOS, if the pictures for this listing don’t inspire you to start a new business, you’re missing an opportunity.

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“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp”, and all that

26 Twin Lakes [sic] Drive in Riverside is back, still asking $3.950 million. The owners paid $1.560 for it in November 2009 and did a decent job of renovating it, given the restrictions imposed by a septic system and the pond that comprises much of the lot. Were those improvements sufficient to bump this house’s value up $2.5 million? Obviously not, or someone would have bought the place by now. I personally like it at, say, $2.5 million and maybe, stretching a whole lot to reflect the good location, $3.1 (okay, perhaps only Jack LaLanne could be that flexible). At its current price, however, I can understand why the listing broker hasn’t bothered to update the picture – it will be  seasonally-correct again long before this sells.

Jack Lalanne, home buyer

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Timing is everything, sometimes

244 Byram Shore Road, once listed (January, 2010) for $8.995, has dropped its price to $5.975 million. The just-about-identical house next door, number 240, sold in 2006 for $7.250, also discounted from an original asking price of $9.499 million. I’m sure anything close to $6 million will make the seller of 244 happy, but two years of hanging on for an illusory $3 million more must (might?) make him wonder at that first price.

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Chalk up another for Riverside’s Club Rd

30 Club Road, a beautiful renovation listed at $6.850 has gone to contract after just a brief time on the market (even faster than the record shows, because there was an accepted offer a while ago). This house last sold in 2007 when it went for full asking price of $4.350 million in just 14 days. The new owners spent a lot of money completely restoring it and now they’re recouping that expenditure and, I’d guess, a tidy profit.

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Don’t get greedy

407 Round Hill Rd

The owners of 407 Round Hill Road, a pretty bad contemporary on 7 acres behind Round Hill Community Church and next to the cellphone tower, picked it up for $1.8 million in February, 2009, wiping out a Washington Mutual mortgage of $3.905 (not that anyone cared by then – WaMu, with taxpayer assistance, had been downloaded to Chase, who didn’t pay diddly for the loan). So far, so good; the buyer did some remedial work and could have flipped it, I believe, for a reasonable profit. But instead he priced it at $4.9 million, an offer that went nowhere. The property’s been listed for rent since last August, starting at $12,500 and now down today to $8,900. At some price, this place will sell or rent. Just not this price.

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Rival wasn’t pussyfooting around

What's for dinner? Oh! Us!

Chinese tycoon’s slow-stewed cat entrée poisoned by business rival

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Shadow inventory in Greenwich

Article here on California’s Corona del Mar  where there are two bank-owned properties listed on the MLS but 28 homes that are in default on their mortgages. We’re talking Greenwich prices here, by the way, not Atlanta. Same story, with even larger numbers, in Greenwich. Fudrucker is out of the office right now but when he returns I’ll get the statistics. The story is the same: banks do not want to take the hit on multi-million-dollar bad loans so they either aren’t foreclosing at all or, having filed a notice of default and foreclosure, do nothing to move the case along. In Beverly Hills, 40% of all defaulted loans are two years or more behind. That’s about the same here and from what I hear from bankers, the chances of a mortgage ever being made good after six months or non-payment are essentially zero. The banks and their once-rich borrowers are playing a holding game here but eventually, that game will end. very slowly.

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Not so much, in Greenwich

BusinessInsider: “what will $250,000 buy you around the country?” Some okay stuff in Atlanta, if you should for some reason find any reason to live in Atlanta, and livable space in Wisconsin. I checked Greenwich’s MLS and found exactly one listing priced under $250,000. In fact, it’s only $69,000.

Come on, buyers,get your feet wet!

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Speaking of things that don’t work

Another solar power factory (which never opened) goes bust. How much fraud is going on in this government sponsored industry? Well there’s this:

GlobalWatt’s website shows a seven story gleaming building in what appears to be a downtown area with the words “corporate headquarters 2680 North First Street Suite 215 San Jose.”

Globalwatt's purported worldwide headquarters

In fact the company’s headquarters is located above a dentist’s office in a low slung brown edifice in one of Silicon Valley’s many office parks.  Chitre says he does not know what the building pictured on the website actually is.  “I think it is a solarized building.   It doesn’t say its our headquarters [specifically].”

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I tell you, this just doesn’t work

60 E. Elm Street, condo, has expired unsold.The owners paid $4.125 million for it in 2010 (a discount from its 2009 ask of $4.925) and tried reselling it this year at $3.995. When that didn’t work, they raised its price last october $100,000 to $4.1 million and the result was nil. The suggestion here is that, when your house won’t sell, the price direction you want is down, not up.

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