Daily Archives: May 14, 2013

Heading out of town for the next day

Blogging will be light to nonexistent, unless I can find wireless under an oak tree. Back Wednesday night.

The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable

The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable

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A link from InstaPundit but in case you don’t read that blog (what?!) …

 

Idiot Brigade

Idiot Brigade

The myth of the scientific liberal. Everything I’ve been ranting about here for years, all neatly tied up. Read the whole thing, but here are excerpts.

The core trait of a scientific mind is that when its commitments clash with evidence, evidence rules. On that count, what grade do liberals deserve? Fail, given their reaction to the latest evidence on universal health care, global warming, and universal preschool.

The policy world was rocked recently by a New England Journal of Medicine study showing that Medicaid doesn’t improve the health care outcomes of uninsured individuals.

The study compared the health status of adults who were randomly enrolled in Oregon’s Medicaid program with those who weren’t. It found that two years after patients received Medicaid, “no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes” such as hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes resulted. Coverage did, however, lower depression rates and reduced financial strain.

How should a scientifically-inclined liberal have reacted? By acknowledging that if the findings hold in subsequent years, Obamacare’s plan to use Medicaid to achieve its universal coverage goal — at half-a-trillion-dollar price tag over a decade — would need to be reconsidered.

Some liberals such as Ray Fisman of Slate did just that — but they were the exception. Most liberals either dissed the study’s methodology after praising it previously (Kevin Drum, Mother Jones) or ignored its core findings and reported the good news (Jonathan Cohn, The New Republic) or attacked Obamacare’s opponents as heartless fools (Paul Krugman of The New York Times).

For two decades, progressives have castigated those questioning global warming as “deniers.”

But the Economist, once firmly in the alarmist camp, recently acknowledged that global temperatures have remained stagnant for 15 years even as greenhouse-gas emissions have soared.

This may be because existing models have overestimated the planet’s sensitivity. Or because the heat generated is sinking to the ocean bottom. Or because of something else completely.

How should a scientifically inclined liberal react to this trend? By inhaling deeply and backing off on economy-busting mitigation measures till science offers clearer answers.

And how have liberals reacted? By sticking their fingers in their ears and chanting la-la-la.

Liberals don’t just want universal health insurance — they also want universal preschool. But the evidence for government-funded preschool is even more dubious than for government-funded health care.

Numerous studies on Head Start, the federal pre-K program for poor kids, show that its reading and math gains virtually evaporate by fourth grade. And the latest evidence from Oklahoma and Georgia, two states that implemented universal pre-K in the 1990s, only confirms this.

….

It’s not that conservatives don’t have ideological fixations that are impervious to science. However, they don’t pretend to don the mantle of science. Liberals do.

 

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Who says Obama’s a humorless son of a bitch?

 

This will be the fairest, most intensive investigation since we looked into our Operation Fast and Furious

This will be the fairest, most intensive investigation since we looked into our Operation Fast and Furious

Justice Department to probe IRS. Funniest story of the day, so far.

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Interesting new listing

335 Valley Road

335 Valley Road

335 Valley Road, Cos Cob, $2.375 million. It seems to be right on the Mianus River, and with 1.19 acres in the R-12 zone, plenty of FAR space available. There’s no open house listed but I hope one is scheduled soon, because I’d like to see this one.

(By the way, good photos – compliments to listing agent)

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Sale, accepted offer and new listing

 

828 North Street

828 North Street

The sale is 858 North Street, four beautiful acres across from Conyers Farm, $3 million even. This started at the preposterous price of $6.495 million back in 2008 and had only dropped to $3.750 when it sold. Properties like this are frustrating to buyers and agents, when the real value is so obvious yet the seller refuses to acknowledge it. I had buyers for this land 18 months ago, at $3 million, but the owners wouldn’t budge. The house was empty, so letting it sit vacant for  a year-and-a-half did them no good, but it did deprive them of the opportunity cost of that money. Happens all the time.

3 Marks Road

3 Marks Road

On the other hand, 3 Marks Road, which has an accepted offer just 36 days after hitting the market, did benefit from waiting. I love this house, but when it was listed in 2009 at $2.995 it found no buyers. The owners pulled it after six months and only returned it to the market now, into an entirely different – better – market. I was a little surprised it didn’t sell in 2009, bad market or not; I’m not the least surprised it sold now.

50 Hidden Brook

50 Hidden Brook

50 Hidden Brook Road, Riverside, is the new listing, asking $2.050 million for a half-acre of land (the house is described as “as is”, meaning it’s dumpster fodder). It sold for $1.470 in 2003 and I expect it will sell for close to its asking price now, so in Riverside, the prices that had dropped to 2003 levels in the depths of the crash have now recovered and far exceed their previous highs. 7,000 sq. ft. house possible on this lot so $4 million is probably not unattainable.

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Sales activity this spring

It’s hard to give a precise comparison between last year’s market and this year’s because accepted offers and contingent contracts, which are shown in current data, disappear from older data when (if) the house is sold. But in 2012, from January 1 to May 14, there were 246 executed contracts, and 304 for the same period this year. I think the market is even more active than that, because there are 432 houses under some sort of agreement to purchase right now. Give it 60 days and we can get a more accurate accounting.

I do see a tapering off of new listings, so from here on in until September we should see a sifting through of those houses that went unwanted and unsold this spring. There are still plenty of buyers out looking, so either they’ll lower their standards or the sellers will lower their prices or both. Or both parties will just stand pat and wait for better days.

If you’ve been tempted to list your house but haven’t, this isn’t a bad time to do so because you’ll be the only fresh property on the market and thus guaranteed attention. Of course, if you squelch that interest by affixing too high a price on your home, we’ll see you in September.

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Day care in Greenwich?

Your mom will be back in a few hours. Now shut up, and get in the car

Just a few hours in the holding pen and you’ll be back with your mom. Trust me.

A reader asks for recommendations for child care providers here in town. I’d suggest she just drop the little monster off at headquarters and ask the cops to hold him until she returns, but there may be softer, gentler ways which which I am unfamiliar. Are there any?

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Forget the war against women, how about the war against citizens?

EPA denies fee waivers for 93% of all document requests from conservative groups, approves waivers for 92% of such requests from EPA-friendly organizations,

Conservative groups seeking information from the Environmental Protection Agency have been routinely hindered by fees normally waived for media and watchdog groups, while fees for more than 90 percent of requests from green groups were waived, according to requests reviewed by the Conservative Enterprise Institute.

CEI reviewed Freedom of Information Act requests sent between January 2012 and this spring from several environmental groups friendly to the EPA’s mission, and several conservative groups, to see how equally the agency applies its fee waiver policy for media and watchdog groups. Government agencies are supposed to waive fees for groups disseminating information for public benefit.

It’s all one continuous campaign, government workers on one side, foes of their expanding power on the other. Justice Department employees, IRS workers, EPA drones, municipal unions, etc. are determined to protect their jobs and their pay and thwart those who oppose them.

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Republican: “Our survival as a species depends on white men retaining power and taking charge”

Oooh, does that upset you? How about a Democrat Congressional Representative saying the same thing about women?

“Today I’m going to take a big leap over all of the many specific challenges we’re facing, some of which you’ll hear about from the incomparable Cecile Richards, to suggest a more comprehensive solution, Schakowsky said. “Today I am asserting that humanity is at a crossroads on this small planet and that our survival as a species is dependent on women taking charge, taking the world in our own hands.”

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Priorities in higher education

Reader AS sends along this interesting article and the accompanying chart.

k-bigpic

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Sale price reported

59 Dingletown Road

59 Dingletown Road

59 Dingletown, $3,261,104. I understand that the $104.00 represents out-of-pocket reimbursement for selling agent Joe Barbieri’s copying and mileage costs; Joe is  famous for charging  only his actual expenses incurred in showing houses and eschewing any other pay. No commissions for Joe; he loves his job that much.

Great house.

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Rip off in Storrs

UConn’s president is paid $738,000.

UConn’s football coach Paul Pasquloni is paid $1.6 million. His record last year: 5-7

UConn’s retired basketball coach Jim Calhoun was paid $2.7 million the last year he worked and $3 million during his first year of retirement.

Add in the salaries of all the bloated administration’s officers and staff and one might wonder whether we’re running this institution for the benefit of anyone but the “educators” themselves.

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Can’t keep a bad idea down

Llod Hull (propped up by statuette, center) and Mark Pruner

Lloyd Hull (propped up by statuette, center) and Mark Pruner

RTM votes to keep going on the GHS Music Palace

“There’s one thing we can never compromise on and that’s education,” said Lloyd Hull, a member of District 10/Northwest of the RTM. “Economize in other areas, but not education.”

Octogenarian Hull, a back country resident who will likely not be sending voluntary donations to Greenwich from Jupiter Island, didn’t explain what “compromise” was involved: taxpayer representatives wanted to stop the palace completely, Hull wants to hand a blank check over to the very people who steered us into this quagmire in the first place. “A good, sincere-sounding sound bite’s too good to waste,” Hull (might have) said, “who cares about reality?”

Greenwich Time notes: “The project’s cost has soared by 30 percent to $44 million following the discovery of widespread soil contamination at the Hillside Road campus and higher-than-expected project bids.”

I share the sentiments of a colleague of mine:

“It works out to $55,000 a student at the present time,” said Mark Pruner, also a member of District 10. “I have yet to hear how spending the money for this auditorium will result in a better education.”

What are we getting for that $55,000 (and counting) cost per student?

It includes a $3.1 million earmark to make the auditorium’s orchestra pit water-tight because it is below grade, a change that was necessitated by the discovery of polychlorinated biphenyls when ground was broken on the project in 2011.

There is also a $3.8 million line item for the cleanup of contaminated soil outside the construction site in the vicinity of the school’s athletic fields, which the Board of Education is treating as a separate project that could ultimately cost between $15 million and $146 million. (so the once $30 million, now $44 million project will actually cost at least $59 million and possibly $186 million. Thank you, Lloyd Hull, for refusing to “compromise”).

Tesei and Selectman Drew Marzullo, both GHS graduates, spoke in support of the project.

“Marzullo said the project will pay dividends.

“It benefits our children and will increase property values,” Marzullo said.

Pruner has it right: there is no evidence that a tuba practice room will benefit “the children”, and to my certain knowledge, not a single prospective Greenwich home buyer has ever asked about the quality of the acoustics in the present auditorium. Test scores, graduation rates, yes, and most important, taxes. This project will raise those taxes, a matter of no concern to Lloyd Hull, and will decrease property values, a result exactly the opposite of what Third Selectman Marzullo expects. Between those two and 118 of our fellow citizens on the RTM, we’re in the best of hands.

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Uh oh, even Massachusetts Democrats are stirring

Obama: what a Dick!

Obama: what a Dick!

Obama, Nixon, in the same sentence? Where’s Dollar Bill these days; huddled under his bed, wondering what the heck is going on?

Outraged Bay State Democrats are blasting President Obama for exhibiting a Nixonian abuse of power after the stunning news that the Department of Justice secretly obtained Associated Press phone records and the IRS targeted conservative groups — new scandals emerging against the backdrop of heightened Benghazi criticism.

“There’s no way in the world I’m going to defend that. Hell, I spent my youth vilifying the Nixon administration for doing the same thing. If they did that, there should be hell to pay,” U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-Somerville) said about the IRS scandal. “Not only is it bad government and bad to society, it is horrendous politics. The worst thing you can do is give your opponent an easy hammer with which to hit you.”

“It doesn’t seem to be a couple rogue employees. This appeared to be a systemic issue,” said U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-South Boston), who wants to investigate the matter as a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The committee already has scheduled a hearing on the issue for this week, Lynch said, adding, “No American should find themselves the target of the IRS or any other federal organization because of their political beliefs.”

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