Daily Archives: May 21, 2012

Regulations throwing too many people out of work? Fudge the numbers.

Nothing like well-cooked books

Obama officials orders contractors to revise downward their calculation of job losses. Enron executives are rotting in jail for this same behavior.

A preliminary draft of an environmental impact statement estimated that up to 7,000 coalminers could lose their jobs under the administration’s “preferred” regulation. After a leaked copy of the report went public, officials asked the contractors to compare job estimates to a model in which another regulation was enforced, rather than the real world numbers.

“It’s not the real world, this is rulemaking,” an OSM official tells a skeptical contractor on the recording.

“If we’re to assume [the 2008 rule] is enforced in the coal-producing states, this is a very small [impact],” the contractor replies. “But that, as you said, is not the real world, that’s pretending … I thought we were looking at what’s going to change in Kentucky, what’s going to change in Pennsylvania, what’s going to change in Ohio, what’s going to change in Wyoming.”

When a second OSM official makes light of the “theoretical discussion,” the contractor shoots back that “his [the OSM official’s proposed criteria] was theoretical, mine was practical.”

The agency fired the contractors studying the rule less than one month later.


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Eating organic? You’re a jerk

Only the wicked don’t recycle!

Feeling righteous leads to uncivil behavior. Recyclers, greeners or Southern Baptists; when they know they’re right and others wrong, the bad behavior begins.


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This won’t help raise our median price

6 Linwood, Riverside,  originally asking $1.395, sells for $1.075 million. 354 DOM. Nice street, impacted by I-95 noise at this end but certainly not oppressive. I’d have started lower and cut the price faster but if the owners were in no hurry to sell, I can understand their reluctance. And it’s possible that this year’s resurgence in Riverside prices may have repaid their patience.


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This seems cheap

545 Indian Field Road, direct waterfront in Mead Point, asked $15.2 million, went to contract in January and sold today for $10.6 million. I loved this house and the property itself was absolutely beautiful. It’ll probably absorb a couple of million in bringing it up to date but I’d have paid that gladly, were I holding some Facebook shares Friday.

One possibility for the “low” price: it was a contingent contract back in January and perhaps the building inspection discovered some problems that will cost to correct than contemplated? I have no such information, of course, I’m just speculating. I will say this: there are some other Mead Point properties for sale, not waterfront, and I’d guess that this sale price might give some of their owners pause and perhaps reason to look harder at their own asking prices.


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Top Movie Lists?

A reader asked, but I’m not sure I can name ten off the top of my head. Here are some – additions?

1. Casablanca

After that, no particular order)

2. Get Shorty

3. Fargo

4. McCabe and Mrs. Miller

5. His Girl Friday

6. The Big Parade (silent, John Gilbert)

7. Safety Last (silent, Harold Lloyd)

8. Little Big Man

9. Lonesome Dove (TV serial, but …)

10. War and remembrance (another TV serial)


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Havemeyer sale

Credit: “Snapshots by Frankie”

22 Arnold street, $500,000. Asked a preposterous $675,000 but before you sneer, the house sold via short sale less than two months ago for $405,000. I’ll leave it to you Wall Street geniuses to calculate the annual return on that sum, but even deducting the 5% commission, this might best be described as “found money”.


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The road to re-election, Obama style


I don’t give a damn what you do with them, but get them the F**k out of my way!

As long-term jobless benefits expire, unemployment rate will drop. Those who simply give up looking for work drop from sight and need no longer be counted. Gee, I wonder if the Messiah is aware of this?

A drop in unemployment may help President Barack Obama’s re-election chances in November. Only one president since World War II, Ronald Reagan, has been re-elected with a jobless rate above 6 percent. Reagan won a second term in 1984 with 7.2 percent unemployment in the month of the election, after the rate had fallen almost three percentage points in the previous 18 months.


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Contract reported


244 Byram Shore

244 Byram Shore Road, $5.495 million. That’s a lot of money (although it will probably be selling for less), but there’s something about Byram Shore that deludes owners into overvaluing their houses. This one started at $8.995 million and took four price cuts over the next 2 1/2 years before reaching its final price: $7.950, $6.750, $5.950 and now, $5.495.

Same story for the house next year at 240, built around the same time, pretty much same house, same beach views. Started at $9.50, sold for $7.250 in October 2006 after 1,000+ days. And there was still a market for high-end houses in 2006.


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Nothing wrong with the lower end of the market

7 Ginkgo Lane, $1.189 million, 7 days to fully executed contract. 1950 house, small (2,000 sq.ft.), slightly undersized lot (0.75 acre in RA-1) but a good location, close to town off North Maple, and a very reasonable price (I’m fully aware that out of staters like Peg, from Minnesota, must  laugh hysterically at houses we call “reasonably priced”, but …).


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Cooking with Chris

No real estate news posted on the MLS this morning so here’s something else: bluefish, and what to do with it.

1. First, to paraphrase Mrs. Beeton, catch a bluefish.

2. Filet it.

3. Cut out the dark (muscle) meat in the center. Alternatively, scrape it off after cooking.

4. Broil it. Squeeze lemon on it, eat.

5. Skip all the tomato sauce recipes supposed to cut the “fishiness” of the meat (it’s fish, dummy) and its “oiliness”. While it’s true that a 20 lb fish might be improved by that process, a smaller one – say, 10 lbs – will be delicious as is, without the fancy stuff.

Smoked Bluefish, Ole’s Creek Smokehouse

Smoking bluefish is even better, to my taste. here’s how to do it:

Repeat steps 1,2 and 3, above.

4. Brine it: 3/4 cup of salt, maybe 1/2 cup sugar, 2 quarts of water, couple of hours.

5. Place on rack for a couple more (maybe 3-4) hours until dry.

6. Smoke it until cooked, low heat, one hour to 1 1/2, depending on thickness. If you have a real smoker, use it and follow its directions. If you have just a kettle grill that’s easy to do too. Good guide to that process can be found here, “How to smoke a bluefish”.

If you really want to be energetic, your efforts will be well rewarded by turning that smoked fish into dip, the best recipe for which can be found in the otherwise annoying * Martha’s Vineyard books of the late mystery writer Philip Craig. A better cook than writer, but anyway, here’s how he and now I put bluefish to its highest and best use:

Smoked bluefish pate for dips

6 oz. (or so) smoked bluefish, shredded

1/2 lb cream cheese

1/2 tsp horseradish

1 red onion, diced

dash Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp lemon juice

Excellent, especially if topped with jalapeno slice.

* I read most of his work and so they obviously aren’t unreadable, but I did find that they don’t travel well when off island. Entertaining way to fill the day while waiting outside Obama’s gates with other demonstrators.

UPDATE: A reader asked what kind of smoker I have. I use a Bradley, which was a birthday present from Pal Nancy, and it works great – easy, no fuss, does the job. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have as generous a former spouse, and Nancy is rare indeed, then there’s a Little Chief  that’s cheaper and also works well.


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They may not be able to find their ass with both hands but they know which side their bread is buttered on

You calling me stupid?

State Department employees pour money into Obama campaign.

State Department employees have cabled $149,000 to their boss’ re-election campaign — making workers there one of his campaign’s biggest groups of contributors.

The diplomats, ambassadors and agency office workers rank as the 11th-most-generous entity donating to Obama, according to data by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The only groups who have so far forked out more dough to Obama are giant businesses, such as Microsoft and Google.

Fear of loss doesn’t afflict just State Department employees: the article reveals that every government department/agency is swamping Obama’s coffers with cash. It’s war.


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This seems about right

Former Greenwich real estate agents learn the truth of the adage, “when life hands you a lemon …”

I don’t know whose numbers are being used in this analysis but they don’t seem off: Fairfield County residential prices continue to fall.

Ulster County, N.Y., had the biggest decline, with the median selling price tumbling 22 percent in the quarter. It was followed by the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan area with an 18 percent decline; Mobile County, Ala., at 14.7 percent; and Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta Ga., at 12 percent.

Greenwich has been hit particularly hard. The median sale price was down 32 percent, to $1.3 million, in the first quarter of the year. That’s the lowest that it’s been in years.

Sales of homes above $2 million are down in Greenwich, while sales in all segments of the market below $2 million have increased over the first quarter of last year.

On the brighter side, if you ever wanted to buy your own hunting/fishing cabin, New York’s Ulster County has some beautiful land.

UPDATE: Here’s a bit more from the article, quoting Bill Andruss who I not only like but also know to be a straight talker; a no BS type of guy, even if he does use the word “challenged” in place of  “cold, stiff and stretched out on the floor”.

Bill Andruss, an agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in Greenwich, said there are 160 homes priced above $5 million currently for sale in Greenwich. Several years ago, they would have been snatched off the market, but now they’re sitting, while less expensive starter homes are the ones receiving multiple offers. People who already live in town are also less likely to trade up if they’re already in a $3 million home.

“There may be a lot of people who own those homes in town, but there aren’t necessarily a lot of people buying them,” said Andruss of Greenwich’s multi-million-dollar properties. “I think the upper end of the market is going to be very challenged.”


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PETA protests Obama Hussein at Riverside Shopping Center

Meals on wheels

The great unwashed assembled just off Exit 5 in Riverside yesterday afternoon to protest something – presumably, given the meat wagon they drove, the recent confession by president Obama that, while he’s a dog lover, he prefers them parboiled. Touching to see friends of animals sacrifice a beautiful spring day to express their concern for their just-as-dumb companions.

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