Daily Archives: March 21, 2013

Nazi Germany comes to New York

Concerned that some gun owners won’t turn in their now-illegal weapons, Andrew Cuomo and his Democrat goons have established a “rat out your neighbor” hotline, complete with cash rewards for those who call the police on the man next door. I know, I know, it’s about guns, it couldn’t happen with anything else, if it saves the life of one child, yadayadayada. What I find so infuriating about liberals is that they are unprincipled, and because they lack principles they approve or disapprove of particular actions depending on whether they approve or disapprove of the actor. Drones? Warrantless wire taps? Bad when done by Bush, fine when done by Obama. Voter fraud and oppression? Bad if Republicans are doing it, no problem if it’s Democrats.

And so on. The point is, principles are the bulwark of freedom. The principle of free speech mean you protect the right of anyone to exercise it, not just those you agree with. But liberals surpass dissent and cheer on the government when it moves to silence its critics. Witness the ongoing liberal push to shut down conservative talk radio, just as one example. When the state creates an informant system to encourage citizens to spy on and denounce their neighbors, it will not necessarily stop at reporting actions you disapprove of. In fact, it won’t stop there. The Nazis used this control device, the communists did and now it’s here in America.

And the sheeple applaud.

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Boy, those Irish are mean!

A modest proposal

A modest proposal

You want a mortgage bailout over on the emerald isle? Brace yourself, Bridget.

ANYONE seeking deals with their bank over debt will have to make drastic lifestyle changes under proposals to be announced next week.

Homeowners looking to write off mortgage debt will be told, for example, to drop their health insurance and sell off their second car.

New criteria setting out the living standards for people having debt written off will also force people to:

* Take their children out of private schools.

* Give up foreign holidays.

* Get rid of Sky Sports.

Up to 100,000 families are currently in arrears of at least three months on their mortgages, while the average borrower in trouble has four other debts.

The new minimum income guidelines will be issued by the head of the Personal Insolvency Service, Lorcan O’Connor, and Justice Minister Alan Shatter next Wednesday.

The official guidelines will set out what people can live on before being accepted for debt writedown deals to be overseen by the new insolvency service.

But it is understood the guidelines will also be used by banks for those being offered a long-term mortgage deal outside the new personal insolvency process.

Although the guidelines are not legally binding, banks will only do a deal with homeowners who cut their living standards in line with these rules.

Courts are expected to use them as a benchmark in any legal dispute where people cannot reach a deal with their banks.

[A]lthough there will be an allowance for a basic TV package, such as Sky TV, the guidelines are likely to mean no Sky Sports.

All that’s well and good, but how about this bit about private health insurance?

But the fact that the guidelines make no allowance for a second family car and ban health insurance is set to be the most controversial aspect.

Experts said people in this country hold dearly to private health cover, with just 8.6pc of people dropping their health insurance since the financial crash in 2008. Some 2.099 million people have private insurance, 46pc of the population.

How come Krugman and other allies of ObamaKare and single payer healthcare never mentioned that in the land of universal health coverage, 46% of the population pays for real health insurance out of its own pockets?  Even Dullard Bill might have found that disquieting.

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Important news for anyone on or vaguely near Greenwich’s coast

Shorelands

Shorelands

Bob Horton has an excellent article detailing some, but not all of the impacts we can expect as the new FEMA regulations hit with the force of a storm surge. And I say “not all” not because Horton isn’t thorough but because as he writes, no one knows the full implications of all this yet (and as he notes, because our town keeps our emergency plans in a safe, secure location under double secret super probation). It will be worse, however, not better than you can imagine.

Houses sitting on stilts or columns well above ground level, perhaps no new building at all allowed in certain flood zones, and more widespread evacuations during certain storms are some of the policy implications from new maps that will govern coastal development starting in July.

For example, the northernmost concession at Greenwich Point that was severely damaged by the October hurricane now sits some 6 to 8 feet below the height required by federal regulations. And the Byram Pool, which is under consideration for replacement and improvement, rests 4 feet below the new minimum elevation, raising doubts about the wisdom (or legality) of proceeding with that much-needed new facility.

For owners of private homes or commercial buildings, the new flood zones pose serious obstacles to major renovations. As explained on the FEMA website, existing buildings will have to be brought into compliance (raised above base line flood level) once the value of improvements or restoration exceeds 50 percent of the assessed value as of 1986. And, this is a cumulative total, meaning the town will have to consider the value of any and all improvements made since 1986 when granting building permits.

It seems that even relatively minor improvements will mean property owners will have to raise entire buildings to be in compliance.

It is important to understand what “raising a house or building” means. Again, according to FEMA, the lowest floor, including a basement floor, has to be at least 1 foot above the base flood level. So using the Greenwich Point concession building as an example, the floor would have to rest on stilts or columns 7 to 9 feet above where it is now. The space below the lowest floor has to remain open to allow for the unimpeded flow of floodwaters. No fill is allowed. Now translate that look across all affected buildings, and you get a village of houses on stilts towering over the neighborhood, which is a very different look indeed.

FEMA has a very big stick with which to enforce compliance: flood insurance. That agency sets insurance rates, and the less compliant a town is, the more expensive flood insurance becomes for individual property owners. And in cases where a town is deemed to have far too many non-compliant buildings, FEMA can deny flood insurance coverage altogether. Just try selling a house in a coastal zone when flood insurance is not available. There is not a bank in the land that will lend money in that case.

The expanded flood zones have serious ramifications for emergency management plans as well. However, I have no idea how it will impact Greenwich emergency plans because those plans are a well-guarded secret. We just have to trust that our elected officials and the town emergency management director are adjusting the plan accordingly. If that seems ridiculous, I agree with you.

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Open House report

I saw two less expensive homes that I thought were worthy of sending to my clients, so I’ll discuss them later. Common thread of conversations I had with several brokers is the scrawny inventory of houses in the low range. So if you’re one of my clients, don’t blame me for not bringing enough properties to your attention – no one can find them.

The full four million? Why that's wonderful news!

The full four million? Why that’s wonderful news!

Then there’s Riverside, still going strong and sporting ever-crazier prices. I saw two homes priced around $4 million that I think are way overpriced but may well sell for what the owners ask. I wouldn’t recommend them, now, but some people seem to require Riverside and will pay any price to get it.

A friend and fellow agent described much of our current inventory as “grandparenty”, and I believe he’s nailed it. Owners who moved into their houses fifty years and raised their families there have fond memories of those years and can’t imagine anyone changing the house because it’s perfect just the way it is, and they price accordingly.

But grand parents aren’t buying houses, the grandchildren are, and they want white marble kitchens, baths large enough for 12 and master bedroom closets the size of airplane hangars. They don’t want to see Gramp’s antimacassar on the Lay-Z-Boy recliner, nor will they pay extra for the image it evokes of a smiling dad in 1959,  cardigan buttoned to the neck, pipe glowing, reading the World Telegram & Sun while resting an affectionate hand on Spot the cocker spaniel’s head. It’s a turn off, not a selling point. Price that house and its memories at $4 million and you’re cooked.

Or you would have been six months ago. Today, in this market, some desperate buyer may disagree.

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Real estate activity

Back from the open house tour and in my absence 4 items were reported: a sale, an accepted offer and two new listings.

164 Cat Rock

164 Cat Rock

164 Cat Rock, asking $2.150, sold for $1,888,700.

22 Arnold Street, new construction asking $1.695, has an accepted offer. Builder paid $500,000 for the lot in 2012.

330 Sound Beach Ave

330 Sound Beach Ave

330 Sound Beach Avenue is a new listing, but an old house, asking $1.699 million. Owners bought it in 2005 for $1.3 and apparently put some money in it but it remains at 2,300 sq. feet and I personally am a bit dubious about its new price; still, who knows these days?

16 Lake View

16 Lake View

And 16 Lakeview, a house north of the Post Road on a road that claims a view of a lake when in fact it is the Mianus River it looks over, is listed at $2.995 million. It sold new in 2010 for $2.720 but I don’t like the lot very much because it’s crammed in with others. Still, there is that view of the river “lake”, and even access to the water, albeit down a long stairway. Your call on this one.

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Would you rent a house in foreclosure?

The banker reclaims his property

The banker reclaims his property

I wouldn’t advise it unless I’d consulted the lender and found out what its intentions were. I recently heard of a tenant who, unwarned by his the listing agent (even worse, because the tenant was unrepresented and the agent of the owners had to know the impossibility of delivering what she was promising: – quiet enjoyment of the property), signed a lease on the exact day that an order of strict foreclosure, meaning title passed to the bank, was entered by the court. If the lease was signed a few hours before that judgment entered it’s possible – I’m not up on current law – that the tenants are protected for the term of the lease, but otherwise I believe they’re subject to eviction in 90 days. In either case, I think their agent should have warned them about the status of the law suit since it had been going on since 2009 and the details were readily available on the Connecticut Judicial Department’s web site, the link to which is conveniently provided agents by our own Greenwich Association of Realtors’ website; there’s a link to it right on the first page of the realtor’s hotsheet, which you’d think the agent would have seen sometime in the past four years.

Advice: know the capabilities and competence of the agent you’re dealing with. And for those of you who don’t see the need for an agent representing your interests, not the owner’s, here’s why.

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I’d bet Hiram would know all of these, were he still a FWIW reader

Words that have passed from our language, and shouldn’t have.

Just like facts and flies, English words have life-spans. Some are thousands of years old, from before English officially existed, others change, or are replaced or get ditched entirely.

Here are 18 uncommon or obsolete words that we think may have died early. We found them in two places: a book called “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk, and on a blog called Obsolete Word of The Day that’s been out of service since 2010. Both are fantastic— you should check them out.

Snoutfair: A person with a handsome countenance — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk

Pussyvan: A flurry, temper — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk

Wonder-wench: A sweetheart — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk

Lunting: Walking while smoking a pipe — John Mactaggart’s “Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia,” 1824

California widow: A married woman whose husband is away from her for any extended period — John Farmer’s “Americanisms Old and New”, 1889

Groak: To silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them –www.ObsoleteWord.Blogspot.com

Jirble: To pour out (a liquid) with an unsteady hand: as, he jirbles out a dram —www.Wordnik.com

Curglaff: The shock felt in bathing when one first plunges into the cold water — John Jamieson’s Etymological Scottish Dictionary, 1808

Spermologer: A picker-up of trivia, of current news, a gossip monger, what we would today call a columnist — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk

Tyromancy: Divining by the coagulation of cheese — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk

Beef-witted: Having an inactive brain, thought to be from eating too much beef. — John Phin’s “Shakespeare Cyclopaedia and Glossary”, 1902

Queerplungers: Cheats who throw themselves into the water in order that they may be taken up by their accomplices, who carry them to one of the houses appointed by the Humane Society for the recovery of drowned persons, where they are rewarded by the society with a guinea each, and the supposed drowned person, pretending he was driven to that extremity by great necessity, is also frequently sent away with a contribution in his pocket. — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk

Englishable: That which may be rendered into English — John Ogilvie’s “Comprehensive English Dictionary”, 1865

Resistentialism: The seemingly spiteful behavior shown by inanimate objects —www.ObsoleteWord.Blogspot.com

Bookwright: A writer of books; an author; a term of slight contempt — Daniel Lyons’s “Dictionary of the English Language”, 1897

Soda-squirt: One who works at a soda fountain in New Mexico — Elsie Warnock’s “Dialect Speech in California and New Mexico”, 1919

With squirrel: Pregnant — Vance Randolph’s “Down in the Holler: A Gallery of Ozark Folk Speech”, 1953

Zafty: A person very easily imposed upon — Maj. B. Lowsley’s “A Glossary of Berkshire Words and Phrases”, 1888

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German manufacturing may be down, but BMW’s setting the world on fire

Bummer of a Beemer

Bummer of a Beemer

February 28, 2013. Greenwich Fire Marshall: fire that destroyed BMW originated in dashboard.

February 12, 2012: Greenwich Fire Marshall: fire that destroyed garage originated in BMW’s dashboard.

(At least) one Beemer a year going up in flames in one town indicates either the pestilent presence of a BMW vandal or a larger problem. Keep that fire extinguisher handy in any case.

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The word’s getting a real workout these days

 

Maiden of Wall Street

Maiden of Wall Street

Euro falls due to “unexpected” decline in manufacturing.

Euro-area services and manufacturing output contracted more than economists estimated in March, adding to signs the currency bloc’s economy is struggling to emerge from a recession.

A composite index based on a survey of purchasing managers in both industries fell to 46.5 from 47.9 in February, London- based Markit Economics said today. Economists had forecast a reading of 48.2, according to the median of 23 estimates in a Bloomberg survey. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.

ECB President Mario Draghi said earlier this month that the euro region will gradually recover later in 2013 from its second recession in four years. Nevertheless, concerns of a possible bank collapse in Cyprus and political turmoil in Italy are roiling financial markets, and threaten to derail confidence.

European stocks fell the most in three weeks and the euro weakened as German manufacturing, one of the components of the euro-region survey, unexpectedly shrank. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.6 percent at 10:12 a.m. in London. The euro declined almost 0.3 percent to $1.2900.

You can only kick the can down the road so far, then the road ends.

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Feds, Bridgeport: anything we can do to stop job creation, we will

Poster by Bridgeport High School Alumni Association?

Poster by Bridgeport High Alumni Association?

Shades of NYC and Chicago’s prohibiting Walmarts to prevent it from supplying cheap food and jobs to its citizens, Bridgeport and the federal government have sued Bass-Pro while it attempts to open a retail store in the Carpenter’s Point section of the city, an area of vacant dirt since Carpenter Steel moved south and razed its factory back in the early 90s.

The government alleges discrimination in hiring, even though the store has yet to open or hire any of the 300 workers it expects to, but the good fellows whose job it is to protect the interests of minorities has sued because they “know” that Bass Pro will hire just white people.

The federal judge ruled yesterday on a motion for summary judgement which means, under the rules of legal procedure that everything alleged in a complaint is true. But the allegation the judge hangs his hat on was that the head of Bass Pro expressed his opposition to hiring by quotas and that, the judge says, if true, would be proof of discrimination.

I hadn’t realized that merely objecting to a DOJ policy – not a law – was in itself a discriminatory act. In fact, the US Supreme Court has ruled against imposition of quotas, but that must be because the court is composed of prejudiced old white men, so what does that count?

You might think that a city with, what, 40% unemployment? – would welcome a large employer and seek to assist it. In the world of progressive thought, you’d be wrong.

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PETA sets an example for Connecticut

PETA makes room in its kennels

Making room in the PETA kennels

Euthanizes 1,600 dogs and cats: 90% of the pets entrusted to its care. “They’re old, they’re tired, they’re ready to go”, Greenwich PETA advocate Patricia Farell (might have) said.”Besides, we need the money we’d have spent caring for these mangy has-beens to fund our publicity stunts”.

Legislators in Hartford who’ve been studying the idea of wasting old folks were reported to be intrigued, and will be sending a task force to Philadelphia to see how it’s done and how PETA has achieved this mass slaughter while flying under the media’s radar.

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