Daily Archives: September 9, 2014

If your research grants depend on your finding “X”, you’ll find X

Tonight's special - hurry,won't last!

Tonight’s special – hurry,won’t last!

NPR, 2007: Aldabra banded snail goes extinct, first victim of global warming.

Gerlach says he found the proof he needed in shells gathered up by collectors. Smaller shells, once common, disappeared with the frequent long, hot summers. He suspects — but cannot prove — that these bad summers are a side effect of global warming. If he’s right, then this snail has earned itself a grim distinction: It would be the first species in the modern era to become extinct as a direct result of climate change.

It probably won’t be last, says biologist Diane Debinski of Iowa State University.

“I think what we are seeing is the tip of the iceberg in terms of extinction events. I expect that we’re going to be seeing more stories like this,” Debinski says.

Debinski studies the links between extinctions and climate changes. She says the paper doesn’t prove that this snail was done in by global warming, but she wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be true. That’s partly because ecologists have been saying for years that the species most vulnerable to climate change are the ones trapped in isolated habitats, like small islands, mountain tops, or wild lands surrounded by people.

In those situations, says Debinski, “organisms can’t move as easily, and so if the world changes, they are pretty much stranded in these patches of habitat. Maybe they can’t go across an interstate highway, maybe they can’t go through an urban area, and so the climate they like to move into is not accessible.”

In other words, if the globe continues to get warmer, what happened to that snail you never heard of could soon be happening all over the world.

September 9, 2014: Thought extinct, Aldabra banded snail found alive.

Al Gore, call your office.


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Two open houses I liked

54 Grahampton

54 Grahampton

54 Grahampton Lane (how does a thoroughfare become a “lane”?, which I mentioned here yesterday, turned out to be even better than I’d expected because the house, to me, was a winner. I’d figured that, with 2.1 acres in the one-acre zone, the land itself is worth close to its asking price of $2.695, but the house is in impeccable shape and very nice indeed. You could rejigger the outside to turn its contemporary design into a colonial – really – it’s not that hard, and even go up a story on the bedroom wing, but all the rooms are huge, light-filled, with high ceilings and a very open flow. The owner is an older woman with tastes in furniture and furnishings to match, but as I keep saying here, the furniture doesn’t go with the house! Get over it. Jan Milligan listing.

(The owner’s son, by the way, suggested that one could easily give this corner lot a Beechcroft entrance and address, which would make it easier to shield the home from the busy intersection of Clapboard and Grahampton – good idea).

Topping Rd tennis hut, with guest quarters

Topping Rd tennis hut, with guest quarters

Further up north and a significant move up the price ladder, the estate of Richard Treibick has two different parcels for sale, 27 acres on 21 Topping/Close Road, $15.995, with house, guest house, etc., and 8 acres at 45 Burying Hill with barns and a 1735 home, $5.995 million. That would be about $22 million for these two non-contiguous parcels facing each other across Topping Pond, but I imagine both are negotiable, and a package deal could possible see the Burying Hill property tossed in for free, or close to it. Go ahead – use my name.

Wunderkind Joe Barbeiri, gracious host that he is, gave John Horton and I  a golf cart tour around the property and I told Joe that if he’d brought along a couple of low class hookers we could have felt like Tiger Woods, but even without them, it’s quite a spread. 21 Topping has three approved building lots but it’d be a shame to chop this up so much – you could do two, without grievous harm, if you felt you absolutely had to off load some of the debt. I’d keep it intact, myself, holding the two extra lots as a land bank in case the SEC and FBI caught up with me, but that’s up to you.

45 Burying Hill

45 Burying Hill

Neither of the houses up here match the serious money you’d be paying, so consider these land sales, not residences. But each has plenty of room to build the splendid castle you so richly deserve, and need.

Nice land.


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How much can you mark up a foreclosure?

637 Valley Rd,New Canaan

637 Valley Rd,New Canaan

I saw a New Canaan property, 637 Valley Road, come on the market today, asking $6.995 million. That’s a ton of money for up there, where so little is selling, so I looked up its history. It seems that one John E. Mcconnaughy Jr. lost it to foreclosure after borrowing $7 million or so against it (Mr. Mcconnaughy is 90-years-old,  so I suspect a wayward child may have been involved in that debacle, somehow), and the current owner, Michael Zang, bought it from the bank in 2013 for $2.1 million. It’s a very nice house, built in 1949 and sited on 7 acres, but I wonder how much its new price reflects actual dollars spent on improvements and how much is pure “lucky me” markup?  While it’s obvious Mr. Zang got a pretty good deal, how much will a buyer reward him for his perspicacity?

We’ll probably find out in two or three years.


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Dirty pool

Well they weren't supposed to do THAT!

Well they weren’t supposed to do THAT!

Yesterday, Harry Reid took to the floor of the Senate on that august body’s first day back from its five-week vacation to demand that a constitutional amendment limiting free speech be enacted immediately in order to prevent the Koch Brothers (broken record, Harry?) from taking over the world.

“We have had in this country a flood of very, very dark money coming into this nation’s political system,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “Radical billionaires are attempting to buy our democracy.”

Later Monday, the Senate will vote on whether to proceed to a constitutional amendment that would reverse two Supreme Court decisions by limiting money in politics.

Reid said the vote was necessary because the Koch brothers are trying to “buy America” through campaign donations to conservative candidates. He said that the billionaire brothers have paid for 44,000 30-second ads alone this election cycle — that’s 16 days worth of television.

“These two brothers try to fix every election to their liking,” Reid said. “This constitutional amendment is what we need to bring sanity back to elections and restore Americans’ confidence in our democracy.”

So the Republicans obliged, voting to have hearings on the matter, and Reid is furious: the proposal was just for headlines leading up to the elections, not a real call for action, and the Republicans screwed him by giving him what he said he wanted.

After Monday’s bipartisan 79-18 vote, Reid vented to reporters that Republicans were trying to “stall” the Senate, indicating that he never intended for the campaign finance amendment by Sen.Tom Udall, D-N.M., to go to a real floor debate.

Politico reporter Burgess Everett writes that many Republicans voted to advance the amendment Monday in order “to foul up Democrats’ pre-election messaging schedule, freezing precious Senate floor time for a measure that ultimately has no chance of securing the two-thirds support necessary in both the House and Senate to amend the Constitution.”

The move not only guarantees a lengthy debate over Democratic efforts to limit the First Amendment, but it also limits the amount of time left for debates over other doomed measures on gender pay equality and the minimum wage, which were intended to frame the coming elections for Democrats as they defend their Senate majority.

Sounds like the Republicans are finally learning how to deal with Democrats.


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What I just said

2 Cowdray - 11 Hurlingham, Conyers Farm

2 Cowdray – 11 Hurlingham, Conyers Farm

2 Cowdray Park Drive (or 11 Hurlingham, your choice) once owned by former Conyers Farm resident Corey Kupersmith and now in the possession of People’s United Bank, sold for $8.9 million in 1999 and is on the broker open house tour today for $5.8. Some of Kupersmith’s history was reported here last year, but my favorite true story of the man, and his character, can be found in this 2005 law suit*  he brought against Wingfoot Golf Club  for rejecting his application for membership. No one I know, including his former business partners and the residents of Martha Vineyard, where he tried to develop a huge tract of land,** will miss him.

In any event, it looks to me that the bank is out $4.6 million on this loan – I might try $3.9 as an opening bid and see where it gets you. Thirteen acres, even if the house is now obsolete, so it must be worth something.

*The case, dismissed in its entirety, sets forth these delightful observations of Kupersmith’s behavior and character by members opposing his admission:

The remaining nine letters sent to the Admissions Committee in March, 2004, aver in pertinent part as follows:

Fitzgerald writes that plaintiff has a reputation being ill mannered, self-centered, overbearing and obnoxious, little

regard for the rules of golf….., and not in the category of a gentleman of honor, integrity and good character.

Marcato writes that plaintiff’s rude and overbearing behavior at Jupiter Hills Golf Club in Florida…. the behavior of Mr. Kupersmith is totally inconsistent with that of a Winged Foot member.

Wullschleger writes that plaintiff’s aggressive and self-centered behavior does not qualify him for membership in Winged Foot.

Graham’s letter recites plaintiff’s brash behavior, total lack of respect for rules of golf, self absorption, lack of respect for others, no qualities of integrity, character and respect for the game of golf.

Queally’s letter describes plaintiff as abrasive and self-serving bordering on boorish, selfish, and lacking social grace, concluding that admitting plaintiff to the club would do a disservice to the membership.

McDonald writes that his significant personal experiences with plaintiff were all bad and revealed plaintiff’s divisive attitude, condescending tone, and arrogant, often pompous attitude; plaintiff’s membership in the club would be a disservice.

Queally, Jr. writes that plaintiff has blatant disregard for the etiquette of the game and of his playing companions describing plaintiff as the single rudest person he ever played golf with, noting plaintiff’s enormous pre-occupation with his business success and the arrogant, boorish, self absorbed behavior he continuously displays.


(What's left of) Kupersmith Martha's Vineyard development

(What’s left of) Kupersmith Martha’s Vineyard development


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Hell, that’s the standard cut for Greenwich maxi-mansions

Nightmare House

PA Nightmare House

Philadelphian who spent $24.5 million building his 16,000 sq.ft. dream house is “desperate to sell it”, according to the Daily Mail, and will part with it for $10 million.

A few years ago, Ogilvy’s Helmsley mansion, listed for $125 million, sold for $29 – s.o.p. for that size spread. Conyers Farm houses routinely sell for a fraction of their construction costs, and the same is true thoughout most of town. Perhaps because England has so many Russians flooding its real estate market, papers there aren’t familiar with selling at a loss.

They should speak with Stanley Cheslock up at 309 Taconic Road, before his creditors evict him. Paid $6.700 for 21 acres, built a mansion he tried to unload for $31 million and is still trying, years and years later, to unload it for $13. I figure $7.5 might do it.

Stanley's Folly, 309 Taconic Road

Stanley’s Folly, 309 Taconic Road


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They probably didn’t want to perpetuate a stereotype

Never again

Never again

Black teens use pumpkins to beat white grocery store employees 


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Because Arabic would have been too incendiary?

Emergency-Station-Texas-2U.S. S. Obama posts assistance signs along our southern border, in Mandarin. 

“We’re all Americans, now”, Nancy Pelosi told FWIW

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What’s new? GM products are always breaking

Or perhaps Business Insider’s headline writer can’t spell – you never know with those guys

Or it could be a labor issue: we want our rice cake break!

Or it could be a labor issue: we want our rice cake break!


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