Daily Archives: December 3, 2013

On the job training, but such a slow learner

You're gonna LOVE what I got planned for you!

You’re gonna LOVE what I got planned for you!

Community activist cum Leader of the Free World: “I’ve learned not to make wild promises about how well something’s going to work”.  He learned that just last month, after five years of occupying the White House. Do we have time for him to figure out other important things that come with the job?

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Bet she lives in Wappingers Falls

Who says I'm cray? You sayin' I'm crazy, Mr. Penis? Why ....

Who says I’m cray? You sayin’ I’m crazy, Mr. Penis? Why I oughtta ….

Widow of Archie Comic Books CEO, now in charge, says calling male employees “penis” isn’t discriminatory because they’re white males who have no rights.

That’s for the courts to decide. What I like about the story is Mrs. Silberkleit herself, an elementary school art teacher who succeeded her husband, son of the founder of the series, when he died. Whack City.

But her fellow CEO, Jonathan Goldwater, filed suit seeking her ouster her in 2011, charging she was unstable and threatening to run the company into the ground.

That case settled last year, with an agreement that Silberkleit would have limited interactions with the employees, and that a go-between would represent her interests with the company.

The dispute erupted again earlier this year, when the go-between Silberkleit selected, Samuel Levitin, filed papers in Westchester  Surrogate’s Court charging that she’d become unhinged – and even wanted to tart up beloved characters Betty and Veronica. He said she needed to be removed altogether.

Silberkleit responded with claims Levitin had sexually harassed her – and demanded that he get the boot. That case is still pending.

Then in October came the $32.5 million suit by the Archie employees. They’re seeking a court order keeping her two miles away from the office, and say her “deliberate and disturbed campaign of outrageous conduct” has them so freaked out an armed guard’s been posted in the office.

Silberkleit, they say, invited Hell’s Angels to Archie’s Mamaroneck offices in an apparent effort to “intimidate” them, and has repeatedly inquired about the whereabouts of the handgun and 750 rounds of ammo her husband kept at the office. She’s also stalked the employees and their families, the suit says.

Silberkleit called the accusations “untrue and twisted.”

“I have not had any interactions with these people,” she said. “It’s all very puzzling. I don’t know what’s going on in their heads.”

She added that she’s rarely even in the office.

Taking a tip from her fellow asylum roommate Michelle-Marie, Silberkleit has her own website on which she extolls her talent:

Archie Comic Publications, Inc., gained a visionary when Nancy Silberkleit joined the company as Co-Chief Executive Officer in 2009. Formerly an art educator in New Jersey, Nancy Silberkleit took over her husband’s role at Archie Comics after he passed away. Michael Silberkleit had been the company’s co-chair and the son of one of the founders, Louis Silberkleit. Even though Nancy Silberkleit had no formal experience in business and was not a comic book reader herself, she immediately proved valuable to the legendary publishing company.

Drawing on her background in education, Nancy Silberkleit created a division within Archie Comics that focuses on student literacy and fundraising. Through Comic Book Fairs, schools can collect 40% of the sales from the comics sold on the day of the fair. Nancy Silberkleit believes that “Comics + Children = Reading,” and indeed, comic books and graphic novels have inspired young people to read for many decades. Nancy Silberkleit realizes that comic books can educate students on issues relevant to them, such as bullying, cultural awareness, and health and wellness. Furthermore, Nancy Silberkleit is an advocate for arts in education and recognizes the benefits of exposing students to material that incorporates both art and text.

Doesn’t all that sound exactly like someone we know? Wonder if blankets are involved in Nancy’s fundraising.

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Doesn’t BBC also produce global warming “documentaries”?

Lemmings off cliffBBC forced to admit it faked grizzly bear footage.

It is the latest in a series of fakery rows to engulf the BBC’s respected natural history unit, and comes just two years after it was revealed Sir David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet series had filmed supposedly wild footage of a polar bear and her cubs in a zoo.

Nothing approaching Walt Disney’s  1958 “White Wilderness”film, shown to every school kid of my generation and responsible, even today, for the wide-spread belief that lemmings jump mindlessly off cliffs. They don’t.

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 6.29.29 PM

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Well yes, this has been pointed out many times before, but why not try again?

 

It's all groovy, man, flower power will see us through

It’s all groovy, man, flower power will see us through

EU’s energy mess driving down living standards

[E] nergy is … dragging Europe down – not low birthrates and pervasive social-safety networks, but increasing dependence on expensive energy imports and hopelessly tangled markets.

Although delegates gathered to discuss the particular problems of eastern Europe, many had comments about the energy dependence across Europe; its labyrinthine regulations in nearly all 28 countries, its inability to form capital for large projects like nuclear, and governments intruding into the market.

Good intentions have also had their impact. The European Commission has pushed renewable energy and subsidized these at the cost of others. The result is imperfect markets and, more important, imperfectly engineered systems.

With increasing use of wind, which is the most advanced renewable, the problem of loop flow is increased, pushing up the price of electricity. Germany is badly affected and the problem is getting worse because it heavily committed to wind after abandoning nuclear, following the Fukusima-Daiichi accident in Japan.

Frank Umbach, associate director of the European Center for Energy and Resource Security at King’s College, London, said energy costs in Germany are now driving manufacturing out of the country and to the United States.

Umbach said that as Britain de-industrialized 15 years ago, Germany was beginning to go the same way. He said Britain had been able to sustain itself through financial services and other service-sector jobs, but that was not a prospect for Germany, the industrial mainstay of the European Union. Now Britain, with its new nuclear policy, is trying to re-industrialize, he said.

Many countries, particularly in eastern Europe, still balk at foreign ownership of their energy infrastructure and have actively driven away investment. Poland, for example, has frightened off shale gas developers from the United States by insisting that as the resource is developed, 50 percent of the developing company must be ceded to the state. The companies left.

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Does this sound like educator bullshit to you, too?

lead feature blurbSuperintendent McKersie wants $650,000 to “develop a comprehensive approach for dramatic achievement gains” at our free-lunch schools. Love the idea of “dramatic” achievement gains – makes plain old achievement gains seem pretty dull, and “kids who can read” just hopelessly obsolete, but do I have this right, that the money would pay for  study of how to do it? Isn’t that what we pay McKersie half a million dollars for? Isn’t he already supposed to know how to do that?

There’s this added benefit, according the super, which doesn’t make me feel a bit better:

“The proposal would also “support efforts related to racial balance,” the executive summary added.”

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Really? Who’d ever have guessed?

 

or we'll make 'em for you

or we’ll make ’em for you

African Studies chairman at UNC indicted on felony charges for “conducting” no-show classes for athletes at University of North Carolina.

UNC’s investigation found that class, too, was among more than 50 African studies classes over the previous five years that showed little evidence of actually meeting. Nine of those classes were disavowed by the instructors listed as teaching them, and the investigation found evidence the handwriting on course documents didn’t belong to them.

A follow-up investigation by former Gov. Jim Martin, done at UNC’s request when new evidence showed the bogus classes went much farther back, identified more than 200 confirmed or suspected no-show classes going as far back as the mid-1990s, plus more than 500 grade changes that are either confirmed or suspected to be unauthorized.

The evidence so far shows those enrolled were told to write a paper to turn in at the end of the semester, with little evidence it was actually read. But the grades were good to excellent, averaging better than a B-plus.

The case has drawn national attention, in part because it has strong ties to UNC’s high-profile athletic program.

Athletes enrolled in the classes in disproportionate numbers. They made up 45 percent of the enrollments, despite representing less than five percent of the student body. The football team had the highest number of athletic enrollments, with the men’s basketball team a distant second.

UNC officials and Martin found that athletics did not play a role in the fraud because non-athletes had the same access to the classes and received the same grades. They also found no evidence that athletic officials played a part in setting up the classes.

But correspondence obtained by The News & Observer, involving the tutoring program for athletes, showed counselors there knew the classes didn’t meet and weren’t challenging. The counselors steered academically-challenged freshmen football players into one such class, which was listed in a course catalog as a seminar for seniors majoring in African studies.

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Two accepted offers

51 Baldwin Farms No.,  56 Dingletown Road

51 Baldwin Farms N.

51 Baldwin Farms N.

Baldwin Farms was asking $2.6 million. Owners paid $1.525 million for it in 1992, just for historical perspective.

56 Dingletown Rd

56 Dingletown Rd

56 Dingletown asked $3.895, dropped pretty quickly to $3.695 and now has an accepted offer. I liked this house, and said so here – good value, I thought, relative to others in this price range.

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Sales reported

Seven of ’em (although one dates back to mid-November and was just reported today).

44 Conyers farm

44 Conyers farm

44 Conyers Farm, $13,400,000. It once asked $17.950 million, so I suppose someone figures he got  bargain.

84 Burning Tree

84 Burning Tree

84 Burning Tree, $1.775, purchased for $2.250 in 2007 but, as we know, it’s no longer 2007 in mid country.

 

 

530 North Street

530 North Street

530 North Street, $2,587.500. In 2002 it went for full price, $2.495, and a fair amount of money was put into it afterwards but to my clients’ taste and mine, it remained a dated house. Someone disagreed and his put his money where his opinion is.

70 Gregory

70 Gregory

70 Gregory, Cos Cob, sold for its full asking price of $985,000. 2002 price was $769,000.

 

 

12 Circle Drive Ext.

12 Circle Drive Ext.

12 Circle Drive Ext., $665,000. 0.31 acre with teardown on property and the railroad and I-95 as immediate neighbors.

8 Bailiwick

8 Bailiwick

8 Bailiwick Woods, $1.350, bought for $1.150 in 2002.

24 Midbrook Lane

24 Midbrook Lane

24 Midbrook Lane, $1.025 just 27 days after being listed for $1.150. A total re-do project and even then, you’ll still have a 1954 split-level. Ouch.

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ObamaCare designers move to Greenwich?

The Greenwich MLS is experiencing difficulty today – I can’t email the properties I’d like to talk about. The Association is finally dumping current website provider and moving to a new, real system next week, and I can’t wait.

I’m sure the mail system will be restored soon and I’ll write about some of the sales that were reported yesterday and today. Until then, here’s a screen shot of a new listing on Round Hill that describes itself as being “convenient to the Merritt”. Indeed it is.

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 12.19.24 PM

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Required reading before the GHS band flies off to the people’s paradise

paraíso de la isla

paraíso de la isla

Michael Totten on the The Once Great City of Havana.

Almost every picture I’ve ever seen of Cuba’s capital shows the city in ruins. Una Noche, the 2012 gut punch of a film directed by Lucy Mulloy, captures in nearly every shot the savage decay of what was once the Western Hemisphere’s most beautiful city.

So I was stunned when I saw the restored portion of Old Havana for the first time.

It is magnificent. And it covers a rather large area. A person could wander around there all day, and I did. At first glance you could easily mistake it for Europe and could kid yourself into thinking Cuba is doing just fine.

And yet, photographers largely ignore it. Filmmakers, too. It must drive Cuba’s ministers of tourism nuts. Why do you people only photograph the decay? We spent so much time, effort, and money cleaning up before you got here.

Perhaps the wrecked part of the city—which is to say, most of it—strikes more people as photogenic. But I don’t think that’s it. The reason restored Old Havana is ignored by photographers, I believe, is because it looks and feels fake.

It was fixed up just for tourists. Only communist true believers would go to Cuba on holiday if the entire capital were still a vast ruinscape. And since hardly anyone is a communist anymore, something had to be done.

But it doesn’t look fake because it looks nice. Czechoslovakia was gray and dilapidated during the communist era, but no one thinks Prague isn’t authentic now that it’s lovely again. The difference is that the Czechs didn’t erect a Potemkin façade in a single part of their capital just to bait tourists. They repaired the entire city because, after the fall of the communist government, they finally could.

Nothing like that has occurred in Havana. The rotting surfaces of some of the buildings have been restored, but those changes are strictly cosmetic. Look around. There’s still nothing to buy. You’ll find a few nice restaurants and bars here and there, but they’re owned by the state and only foreigners go there. The locals can’t afford to eat or drink out because the state caps their salaries at twenty dollars a month. Restored Old Havana looks and feels no more real than the Las Vegas version of Venice.

It’s sort of pleasant regardless, but it reeks of apartheid. The descendents of the people who built this once fabulous city, the ones who live in it now, aren’t allowed to enjoy it. All they can do is walk around on the streets outside and peer in through the glass.

The semi-fake renovation is, however, good enough that one thing is blindingly obvious: If Cuba had free enterprise, and if Americans could travel there without restrictions, the economy would go supernova.

“The touristy parts of Havana are lovely,” said a friend of mine who has been there many times and returned home with a Cuban wife a few years ago. “But if you get out of the bubble and look at the places the tourist busses don’t go, you will see a different Havana.”

That’s for damn sure.

I walked toward the center of town from the somewhat remote Habana Libre Hotel and found myself the only foreigner in a miles-wide swath of destruction.

… Dalrymple thinks Fidel Castro destroyed Havana on purpose. I don’t know. He’s speculating, of course, and it seems like a stretch, but he makes an interesting point. The city’s former magnificence, he says, is “a material refutation of [Castro’s] entire historiography… According to [Castro’s] account, Cuba was a poor agrarian society, impoverished by its dependent relationship with the United States, incapable without socialist revolution of solving its problems. A small exploitative class of intermediaries benefited enormously from the neocolonial relationship, but the masses were sunk in abject poverty and misery.

“But Havana,” he continues, “was a large city of astonishing grandeur and wealth, which was clearly not confined to a tiny minority, despite the coexistence with that wealth of deep poverty. Hundreds of thousands of people obviously had lived well in Havana, and it is not plausible that so many had done so merely by the exploitation of a relatively small rural population. They must themselves have been energetic, productive, and creative people. Their society must have been considerably more complex and sophisticated than Castro can admit without destroying the rationale of his own rule. In the circumstances, therefore, it became ideologically essential that the material traces and even the very memory of that society should be destroyed.”

I have dear friends , getting on in years now, who live in a multi-million-dollar waterfront home in Riverside and drive (of course) a Prius. They came back from a tour of Cuba and told me how happy the people there were, including their taxi driver/guide, a civil engineer paid $20 a month for his labor who, they insisted, loved his life under Castro. “So why wasn’t he at home with his family at 10:00 at night instead of moonlighting as a taxi driver?”, I asked. “Well, …..”.

I do hope our local tuba players are more inquisitive than my friends.

*

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I like my current health plan, so I’ll keep it

HEYAMAZONDespite promising to do so, Obama hasn’t signed up for ObamaCare

President Obama has yet to make good on the administration’s promises that he would sign up for health insurance on the new government exchanges, the White House acknowledged on Monday.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said that Obama has not signed up for Obamacare and that he did have a reason for the delay.

A reporter pressed Carney on whether the White House would make it an open-press event if and when Obama does enroll.

“I’ll get back to you,” Carney replied.

Shortly after Obama signed the new health care law in March 2010, a White House official said the president planned to walk the walk and sign up for the insurance exchanges his law created.

He only looks stupid.

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Another shocker

 

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noellll,...

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noellll,…

Madoff employee of 40 years said everyone at the firm knew the operation was a scam, all along. Ya think?

Walter Noel, by the way, is still up at 175 Round Hill Road – or the Hamptons, or the City, or …. either way, he’s enjoying himself and no doubt laughing at his victims as heartily as the Madoff staff did.

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Maybe we should switch jobs

The guy in charge of fixing ObamaCare by December 1st has struck out, the Fountain freezer is still bereft of venison. If we sent that person to come to Connecticut to sit in a tree stand and I went to Washington to fix their computers, could either of us do worse?
Next attempt: December 16th, when Santa and his deer are rumored to be planning a low altitude surveillance flight- die, Rudolf, die!

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