Daily Archives: May 19, 2013

Makes sense to me, even if it involves Frenchmen

Why don’t French children have ADHD?

In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?

French child psychiatrists don’t use the same system of classification ofchildhood emotional problems as American psychiatrists. They do not use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM…..

To the extent that French clinicians are successful at finding and repairing what has gone awry in the child’s social context, fewer children qualify for the ADHD diagnosis. Moreover, the definition of ADHD is not as broad as in the American system, which, in my view, tends to “pathologize” much of what is normal childhood behavior. The DSMspecifically does not consider underlying causes. It thus leads clinicians to give the ADHD diagnosis to a much larger number of symptomatic children, while also encouraging them to treat those children with pharmaceuticals.


And then, of course, there are the vastly different philosophies of child-rearing in the United States and France. These divergent philosophies could account for why French children are generally better-behaved than their American counterparts. Pamela Druckerman highlights the divergent parenting styles in her recent book, Bringing up Bébé. I believe her insights are relevant to a discussion of why French children are not diagnosed with ADHD in anything like the numbers we are seeing in the United States.

From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means “frame” or “structure.” Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want. Mealtimes are at four specific times of the day. French children learn to wait patiently for meals, rather than eating snack foods whenever they feel like it. French babies, too, are expected to conform to limits set by parents and not by their crying selves. French parents let their babies “cry it out” if they are not sleeping through the night at the age of four months.

French parents, Druckerman observes, love their children just as much as American parents. They give them piano lessons, take them to sportspractice, and encourage them to make the most of their talents. But French parents have a different philosophy of discipline. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word “no” rescues children from the “tyranny of their own desires.” And spanking, when used judiciously, is not considered child abuse in France.

Frog den

Frog den


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$190 Million? Maybe the seller (or his creditors) will take less

man in a barrelBuried in the comments of this original story on the Mead Point listing are lots of links to the owner of Greenway’s financial woes, but this one probably explains what’s happening to the timber baron’s empire.

There’s another story here.

And just for color and for fans of naked drunken Harvard rugby players, there’s this.


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End of a business and a business model

The licenses of the founders and principals of one of NYC’s largest real estate appraisal companies MMJ (including Riverside resident and the owner of a new brokerage firm here in Greenwich, Jeffrey Jackson), have been revoked as the result of an administrative judge’s finding of fraud.

The outline of the dispute and the status of real estate   is here.

At the market’s peak, the appraisal firm Mitchell, Maxwell & Jackson was one of the most dominant in New York City. And one supervising appraiser, Marianne Mueller, stood out as MMJ’s most successful employee, according to the heads of the firm.

Then the recession hit, and relations between Mueller and MMJ soured, too.

The case, which The Real Deal first reported online, resulted in an administrative court judge ruling to pull the licenses of MMJ’s founders — Steven Knobel and Jeffrey Jackson — effective Feb. 1. But that harsh measure has been put on hold pending the founders’ appeal. [Now upheld ]

The bone of contention in that case: Mueller’s electronic signature. She accused MMJ of signing her name to 14 appraisals that she insists she never saw. MMJ eventually fired Mueller, who had climbed to executive vice president, and she filed a complaint with the New York Department of State, which regulates appraisal firms.

At a Dec. 27 administrative law hearing, a judge ruled in her favor, determining that Knobel and Jackson knew that their other employees were affixing Mueller’s electronic signature to the appraisals, all conducted in 2009. That’s when he ruled to pull Knobel and Jackson’s licenses — an action that sources say is virtually unheard of.

MMJ appealed the judge’s order. In January, a senior DOS official granted a stay to the firm, noting that the judge mistakenly used a test applicable to only brokers. (Brokerage firms are responsible for the conduct of their employees; appraisers, though, are not.)


Knobel and Jackson deny any wrongdoing. “[Mueller] tells different sets of stories, convincingly,” said Knobel in a sit-down interview with TRD last month. “But so did the people in the witch trials in Salem. And people got burned for it.”

Knobel and Jackson launched MMJ in 1991 and, by all accounts, saw their firm soar. “Every time I would do a closing, they seemed to be the appraisers,” said real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey.

By 2008, MMJ was one of Manhattan’s eminent appraisal firms.

“They went from a handful of appraisers to near 100 people,” said Jonathan Miller, who runs real estate analytics company Miller Samuel, which competes with MMJ.

Only two years later, though, MMJ’s client list, once about 3,000 strong, had dwindled to about 50, Knobel said. And many of the firm’s appraisers, most of whom weren’t salaried, walked out the door, too, when the business dwindled.


Many blame the housing crash on appraisal firms, contending they helped inflate real estate prices through their cozy relationship with mortgage brokers.

MMJ was never accused specifically of malfeasance, but industry sources told TRD that the firm relied heavily on mortgage broker clients and filled out appraisal forms with breakneck speed.

“They had people doing 40 appraisals a week,” said a fellow appraiser, who asked not to be named. That pace, the source said, was simply unrealistic; the appraisal form for a Fannie Mae home, for example, includes more than 800 questions.

Knobel acknowledged that a handful of appraisers might have completed dozens of forms — but only rarely. “And say you do [unit] 3B [in a particular building] and you get an order for 4B — how many of those fields do you have to redo?”

Miller did not point specifically to MMJ, but generally described his high-volume competitors during the boom years as “deal enablers.”

“They would mushroom in size and work mostly for mortgage brokers,” he said.

The real estate downturn, though, isn’t the only reason why appraisers hit the skids. It was a regulation that went into effect in 2009.

As TRD and others have reported, the Home Valuation Code of Conduct — called “havoc” by appraisers — strongly encourages the use of third parties called appraisal management companies, who dole out appraisal assignments instead of brokers and bankers. The intent of the regulation was to create a firewall between the lender and the appraiser, preventing mortgage brokers from dictating, or trying to dictate, appraisal values.

“[The change] destroyed the mortgage broker world and the traditional appraisal world,” one source said.

Knobel agrees: “The appraisal business is dead, and I will be the first to put a tombstone on it.”


Regardless of the outcome, there’s one thing perhaps all parties can agree on: The future is not very bright for appraisers.

Appraisals in New York now net between $600 and $700 each, and the appraiser gets a third to a half of that sum, according to a prominent Manhattan appraiser who asked not to be named. “What are you getting for that price?” he asked.

Hardly anything, is what one industry expert thinks.

“Meeting a minimal standard is all that matters,” said Larry Sicular, founder of Sicular & Associates, a Manhattan-based brokerage and appraisal firm.


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Picture of the week

Just because it displays Obama in all his arrogant contempt; contempt for the military, its traditions, and the country. Even in Britain – especially in Britain – they are not impressed.

If the Ambassador had requested Marine umbrella toters for Benghazi I'd have sent them of course. But with weapons? That way lies an affront to our Arab allies, my friends.

If the Ambassador had requested Marine umbrella-toters for Benghazi I’d have sent them of course. But Marines with weapons? That way lies an affront to our Arab allies, my friends.

Marines are forbidden to carry umbrellas while in uniform and are to refuse an order to do so, even if that order is issued by a resident Kenyan: .

According to Marine Corps regulations, not even the President of the United States can request a Marine to carry an umbrella without the express permission of the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corp Manual, which is the bible for all soldiers serving, specifically states that a soldier’s uniform dress code does not allow the carrying of an umbrella and ‘no officer or official shall issue instructions which conflict with, alter, or amend any provision without the approval of the Commandant of the Marine Corps.’

But that doesn’t apply to Marines serving as butlers, White House spokesman Jay Carney explained, “and if you look, you’ll see that’s how the president was using them. Yeah, he could have used one of his half-dozen aides milling around, but those slobs don’t look sharp, the way Marines do.”

UPDATE: It’s a family tradition

Michelle Air Force One


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