Monthly Archives: December 2014

I think it says more about the parents than Hasbro, but I get the point, so to speak

Icing on the cake

Icing on the cake

Parents furious with toy maker for including phallus-shaped icing tool in baking kit.

Hasbro is under fire from parents who are outraged over a penis-shaped part in a Play Doh cake decorating set.

The toymaker has been attacked by moms and dads who bought the innocent-looking Sweet Shoppe Cake Mountain Playset for their loved ones – and were shocked at the toy’s phallic connotations.

The piece in question, which is around the length of a thumb, is a mock frosting applicator, which the company refers to as an ‘extruder’. It is one of many parts in the $20 set.

Next, these same parents will be insisting on veils over their grocery’s banana section.

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But foreign money can’t hurt

Your home ('s buyer) here

Your home (‘s buyer) here

Chinese, among others, seek safety in US real estate. If you’ll excuse the reporter’s perception that a million-bucks is a lot of money, the basic facts are true: high-end houses are selling, while the middle-grounds is not. That’s a reversal of what was happening in the market just a year ago.

My partner Fudrucker is incredibly busy with Chinese buyers at the moment; in fact, he’s off to China in two weeks to explain, and sell, we hope, the Greenwich market to potential buyers in that country, and I’m sure he’s not the only Realtor responding to international demand. As bonuses shrink for the mid-level Wall Streeters and soar for the top, Greenwich property owners should cross their fingers and hope for continued instability in the east, including, of course, Russia.

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This won’t help central Greenwich property values

Annie get your gun

Annie get your gun

Owners of 62 Ridge Street, which sold, new, for $6 million back in 2011, “bound and robbed” in home invasion.

Pretty rare for Greenwich – I can think of only two such robberies in the past 20 years – but still …

Three blocks from police headquarters, for those who appreciate ironic, useless information.

At about 10:15 p.m. the couple a heard noise and were suddenly confronted by three black males wearing masks and carrying crowbars,” Gray said. “The couple was tied up and the robbers made off with thousands of dollars of cash and jewelry from the family safe,” he said. No one was injured during the robbery.

The suspects are described as: black males wearing partial masks and dark clothing, athletic build, average height, and believed to be somewhere in their late 20’s or early 30’s.

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Nobel Peace Prize winner update

Blowing the peace: This is not your grandfather's Oldsmobile

Blowing the peace: This is not your grandfather’s Oldsmobile

US plans to return tank brigade to Europe to counter Putin.

I’m no military expert, but a 150-tank fleet, plus all the support vehicles and manpower to support it, is larger than a bread box.

Weakness invites aggression.

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Modern Journalism

Parade participants take a break and head for the liquor store

Parade participants take a break and head for the liquor store

CBS affiliate reports on imaginary Kwanzaa parade 

In LA, CBS Station Pretends There Was a Real Kwanzaa Parade Yesterday

In an example of shameless Soviet-level deceit, CBS-LA reported colorful details, such as:

Some participants walked the parade carrying signs underlining important issues to the community, such as police brutality, home foreclosures, judicial corruption, transparency in government and environmental racism.

Except — there was no parade.

None.

It didn’t happen.

An imaginary parade for an imaginary holiday.

It’s actually the most fitting “celebration” of Kwanzaa I’ve ever heard of.

(The original CBS story is here.)

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If I didn’t think it will affect prices in the remaining 49 states, I’d enjoy this story more

Bon apitite

Bon appetit 

California’s new law on creature comforts for chickens will drive egg prices up 40%

Look out Californians: Egg prices are expected to rise as a result of the state’s new chicken welfare law.

Farmers are prohibited from housing farm animals in cramped cages under Proposition 2, also known as the California Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. The cage systems sometimes house tens of thousands of chickens in stacked rows of 8-by-8 inch wire cages, and activists say the law will prevent suffering and reduce the chances of salmonella contamination.

The cost to chicken farmers of upgraded housing is expected to translate to a 10 to 40 percent increase in the price of wholesale eggs next year, reports the Los Angeles Times. The chickens must be able to ”turn around freely, lie down, stand up or fully extend their limbs,” which means many farmers have or will have to get rid of cages and keep fewer chickens to allow the animals more space.

California voters overwhelmingly approved the law in 2008.

The average voter out there on the left coast is both whacky and woefully ignorant of how food is produced, so they whooped this law through and, satisfied, have sat back to enjoy their omelette. As usual, the liberal elite that sponsored this bill will pay far more for a basic staple and be delighted; their poorer cousins will just buy Twinkies.

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Fortunately, its citizens are too stoned to do much beyond chanting and banging kettles

Portland Oregon protestors go a’caroling,: “Deck the halls with rows of dead cops”.

And a merry Christmas to you.

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If you’ve ever wondered whether regulatory agencies have slowed our economy, try imagining how Thomas Edison would be treated today

Amazon wants to develop delivery drones – that won’t fly with our protectors

Commercial drones have taken off in other countries. Thousands of drone companies operate legally under simple safety rules in Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. These companies use drones to deliver emergency medications, to monitor farms, drilling areas and construction sites and to film movies and news. By contrast, the FAA has approved a mere 10 commercial drones operators in the U.S.

In July, Amazon asked the FAA for permission to test its drones in a rural area outside Seattle. Regulators responded in October with a long list of questions, including this doozy: “Why granting your request would be in the public interest; that is, how it would benefit the public as a whole. What data or analysis supports Amazon’s position that aerial delivery is in the interest of the American public?”

For that matter, had the FCC still had the power to protect AT&T’s monopoly when Steve Jobs proposed an iPhone, he’d have been disconnected .

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There’s something in here about women drivers or women preachers, but it’s sad either way

Oopsie! Didn't notice

Oopsie! Didn’t notice

Maryland’s first female Episcopal bishop flees after hitting bicyclist, leaving him to die in the street. I don’t believe Episcopalians administer last rites, so that might be why she went on her merry way, but it’s also possible, given her past history of drunk driving and drug use, that she had other reasons.

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More bad real estate pictures

I was dream-searching homes in Gunnison, Colorado just now and was struck, again, with the low quality, dumb photographs used by some agents to market their listings. Here’s one, of several, that simply screams “lowball me” – that may not be the case, but the pictures show that it’s no longer being lived in and that, in turn, sends the message that the seller might be receptive to a very, very low bid. That may not be the case, but a decent agent would at least make the beds, straighten the blinds and create the pretense that there’s a happy family still ensconced and not at all eager to move out. Of course, the phrase “seasonal access”, buried in the text, might explain the vacant look, but someone could at least bring some sheets and fake family pictures along to pretend that someone’s still on the premises.

On the other hand, I suppose it could be a deliberate strategy: it certainly caught my eye as a target for a 1/2-price offer, and if it weren’t for the fact that I’m not looking for a summer-only mountain home, I’d investigate it further.

Long gone

Long gone

Gunnison 2

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Back from hiatus, more tomorrow, but until then, this: Greenwich home prices skyrocket 25% in 2014!

Greenwich starter home

Greenwich starter home

Great news, but sadly, only for Greenwich, England.

Close, so close.

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Brother Anthony and the Christmas spirit

He's never gotten over getting coal in his stocking back when he was 3

He’s never gotten over getting coal in his stocking back when he was 3

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I’m alive-really

A number of reader/friends have emailed me, concerned at my absence. That’s really comforting, in a Sally Fields-sort-of-way: “you like me, you really like me!” But I’m fine. Daughter Kate came in from Oregon the other day, and I took her up to Maine to reunite with the clan, then returned. Some blogging tomorrow, back up to Maine Monday, and back again at the close of next week.
John and Kate performed tonight up in Portland, Pal Nancy reports, to great acclaim. There’s to be a repeat performance next week, which I’ll be around for.
So all is good – we’re preparing for a joyful Christmas, as I hope all of us, gentile, Jew and skeptics all – what’s the point, otherwise?

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They’re not much of a presence in the Greenwich market, but an interesting development

Only the rich can afford a sleigh: "Fleeing the wolves"

Only the rich can afford a sleigh: “Fleeing the wolves”

Russians disappearing from the London market as ruble collapses.

Wealthy Russian homebuyers are vanishing from London after driving a wave of foreign investment that lifted property prices to records. Only the oligarchs persist.

The number of Russians registered through Christie’s International Real Estate to buy homes in the city dropped by 70 percent in a year, said Giles Hannah, the broker’s senior vice president. That has led to a plunge in offers for properties priced at less than 10 million pounds ($16 million) as it becomes more difficult for all but the wealthiest to take money out of their home country.

“The banks are limiting what they can withdraw and we’re expecting further impact as sanctions kick in,” said Hannah, who advised Russian families on 180 million pounds of London property deals in the past two years. “The oligarchs are still spending. They already have banks or lawyers over here that allow them to make purchases.”

The number of Russians registered through Christie’s International Real Estate to buy homes in the city dropped by 70 percent in a year, said Giles Hannah, the broker’s senior vice president. That has led to a plunge in offers for properties priced at less than 10 million pounds ($16 million) as it becomes more difficult for all but the wealthiest to take money out of their home country.

Russian buyers have been “eliminated virtually overnight,” Andrew Langton, chairman of luxury-property broker Aylesford International Estate Agents, said by phone.

Russians were the biggest buyers of London’s luxury homes between January and July 2013, according to Knight Frank LLP. They dropped to third during the first six months of this year, behind Italians and French purchasers, the broker said.

The story is different for the oligarchs, a group of the richest Russians who have thrived since the fall of Communism. Russians accounted for 21 percent of home purchases worth more than 10 million pounds during the six months to October, up from 13 percent in the prior six months, Knight Frank LLP said in a report Nov. 25. Those that continue to shop for homes are targeting London, Paris and the French Riviera, according to Hannah at Christie’s.

“The heyday of the Russian buyer was probably two years ago and it’s been declining ever since, although there was a bit of buying as a result of the Ukraine crisis,” said Robert Bartlett, chief executive officer of broker Chestertons. “There’s now a broader influx of Indian and Middle Eastern money that is having a bigger impact on the London market.”

Not for nothin’, but this year saw a resurgence of huge sales in Greenwich, and a slowdown in the mid-range; $2.5-$4.5, or that’s my impression – statistics will follow in January. I wouldn’t equate our financial tycoons with the corrupt Russian oligarchs, but if Wall Street should crash, we’d probably be in for the same bad spell London’s enjoying.

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It’s home schooling or nothing – even charter schools aren’t immune from the rot

Alma Del Mar student salutes her teacher

Alma Del Mar student salutes her teacher

Massachusetts charter school sends 7-year-olds out on the sidewalk to protest Ferguson shooting.

A group of second grade students protesting the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner staged a demonstration outside their Massachusetts school on Friday.

The 20-odd group of students, aged 7 and 8 years old, held signs that read ‘Honk if you want justice’ and ‘Please don’t shoot me, Ferguson’ and chanted on the sidewalk beside Alma Del Mar Charter School in New Bedford.

The school says it was the students’ idea and so they set them free to conduct their protest. Uh huh.

Even in the most liberal state in our nation, political protests dreamed up and conducted by second graders is improbable at best.

 

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Plumber’s Helper

Now that's not funny!

Now that’s not funny!

Texas plumber’s truck ends up on the Internet as an ISIS anti-aircraft vehicle. Hilarity ensues.

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What shouts “Christmas” better than BANG!

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The worst First Lady in our nation’s history

I know what I want, and I DESERVE it!

I know what I want, and I DESERVE it!

MICHELLE OBAMA RELATES HER OWN PERSONAL HORROR STORY OF RACISM

“I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.”

The fact that this entitled, affirmative-action Princeton graduate is offended by someone asking for her help, whose automatic, knee-jerk response to a request for a helping hand is to interpret it as an act of racism, says all there is to say about her world view and her narcissistic personality. I have often offered to retrieve items from shelves for people who can’t reach them: male, female, black, white – it’s called one person helping another – part of our role as human beings. For the president’s wife, it’s all about other people meeting her demands, and screw the rest.

Oh boy, boy! get me another.

Oh boy, boy! Get me another.

UPDATE: Turns out, Obama’s boss, Valerie Jarrett, demanded a refill of her wine glass from a four-star general she mistook for a waiter. He went and got her one, without comment or complaint.

White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, who was seated next to Jarret, began “cracking up nervously,” our tipster said, but no one pointed out to Jarrett that the man sporting a chestful of medals was not her waiter.

“The guy dutifully went up and got her a glass of wine, and then came back and gave it to her and took a seat at the table,” our tipster said. “Everyone is in tuxedos and gowns at this thing, but the military people are in full dress uniform.”

Which is the difference between a gentleman and a pampered pig.

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Must they always blame Bush?

So ask the Brazilians for help

So ask the Brazilians for help

Scientists: beavers cause global warming

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Out on a limb

Eco-worrier's wet dream: extreme weather, rising sea levels and damage to rich people's yachts

Eco-worrier’s wet dream: extreme weather, rising sea levels and damage to rich people’s yachts

Major snow storm may hit region this weekend, or it may not

Remember this rule: If we do get struck by a blizzard, it’s global warming; if we don’t, it’s “just weather”.

This from the people who claim to be able to predict, within a half-degree, what the global temperature will be in 2050.

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