Daily Archives: October 5, 2015

From cradle to grave, the government wants all of your child or, more accurately, their citizens

Children dress up as Elizabeth Warren

Children dress up as Elizabeth Warren

Minneapolis schools hire “Playground Consultants” to supervise and guide.

Two Edina elementary schools, worried about the politics of the playground, are taking an unusual step to police it: They have hired a recess consultant.

Some parents have welcomed the arrival of the firm Playworks, which says recess can be more inclusive and beneficial to children if it’s more structured and if phrases like, “Hey, you’re out!” are replaced with “good job” or “nice try.”

But some of the kids at Concord and Normandale Elementary say they are confused, or that the consultants are ruining their play time.

“The philosophy of Playworks does not fit Concord,” said Kathy Sandven, a parent of twin boys who attend the school. “It is a structured philosophy — an intervention philosophy — not allowing kids for free play.”

The two schools have joined a growing number of districts that have hired consultants to remake the playground experience into more structured and inclusive play time. The games and activities, like four square and jumping rope, are overseen by adults and designed to reduce disciplinary problems while ensuring that no children are left out.


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The game cock finely limps in



After 2,094 days on the market, 4 Game Cock Road, Byram, reports a contingent contract. It’s basically a tiny lot with a “deep water” dock (your definition of deep will depend on how much your boat draws), and house that isn’t worth anything. Owners have been trying to sell it since 2006, when they started at $4.2 million, and their final asking price was still $2.895. I don’t imagine they’re getting anything close to that but, hey, they bought it, didn’t they? Maybe someone just like them has come along, only with more money.


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Some agents just can’t lose in this game

27 Khakum Wood

27 Khakum Wood

Back a few years ago, David Ogilvy listed 27 Khakum Wood Road for $5.95 million and it didn’t sell, which was hardly surprising, considering it’s a tired, old (1929, last renovated 1990), small (3,900 sq.ft.) home on marginal land, albeit in a nice address. Nonetheless he kept the listing for years, slowly dropping its price, until the owners’ patience ran out and they switched to a new agency and a new agent – the same one, coincidentally, that listed 218 Clapboard at $25 million. That agent dropped the price still lower, and Friday it sold, for $3.9 million to a client of … David Ogilvy’s!

I’m sure the agent for 218 Clapboard will return the favor when she loses its listing to David and he drops the price. “Oh, look, David! I’ve found a customer!”


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Going down? Here’s a 747 headed that way

747 Riversville Rd

747 Riversville Rd

747 Riversville Road, that has been for sale since 2008 when it asked $7.975 million, is still for sale now, although its price has dropped to $3.3 million. It comes with two building lots,a total of 10 acres of land, and a nice old house. $3.3 isn’t crazy, I suppose, but who the hell pitched that first number at them?


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I get the impression that people don’t use me to list their homes because they want the bad news delivered slowly, over time

Praying for a soft landing

Praying for a soft landing

218 Clapboard Ridge Road has been reduced in price, again, and now wants $13.750 million. When it first came on the market at $25 million back in September, 2013, I had this to say about its prospects:

Leslie’s a top agent – truly one of the best- and if she’s optimistic about this home’s prospects at $25 million, who am I to gainsay her?

Bust heck, what’s this blog about except to do exactly that?

To date, the top selling price on Clapboard Ridge is $10.6 million, and while there have been 6-8 sales in the $10s ,$10 million is not $25; not even using math as taught today.  Of all those top-end property sales,  the one I see as most comparable to 218 is 97, which sold in 2008 for $10,350,000. Here’s why – take a look at the two listings, both on the same road, same neighborhood (218’s listing describes it a located in Khakum Woods, but it’s entered via Clapboard, not the association’s main drive, which places it “of the wood, but not in  the wood”, as I see it).

218 Clapboard Ridge: 1929 construction, renovated “from studs out” in 2004. 5.11 acres, 13,080 sq.ft. asks $25 million.

97 Clapboard Ridge: 1925 construction, renovated by Hobbes, a premier builder, in  2006, 5.34 acres, 12,200 sq. ft., sold in 2008 for $10.350 million. 

I understand the art of fruit comparison, and appreciate the difference between an orange and an apple, but these two look like peas in a pod or, if you insist, two apples. A Jonathan and a Northern Spy, perhaps, but they didn’t fall far from the same tree.

Of course, that’s just my opinion, and like Leslie, I’m “not concerned about the possibility that it will sit on the market long”. But the cause of my indifference is different from hers: it’s not my listing, so why should I care?.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.


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I’ll be more impressed when the kids stop their families from going on vacation

The new model citizen

The new model citizen

CT DEEP offering schools grants to “encourage awareness of recycling” among students.

We are offering small grants to fund projects focused on increasing awareness of recycling or for projects that lead directly to increased waste reduction, reuse, recycling or composting in Connecticut’s schools,” said Robert Klee, DEEP commissioner and chairman of RecycleCT.

The RecycleCT Foundation was created by the General Assembly to raise public awareness and participation in recycling. The legislation also called for the recycling diversion rate to increase to 60 percent by 2024.

“While RecycleCT is targeting schools for its first grant initiative we will soon be offering grants in other important sectors,” Klee said.

According to DEEP, the state’s overall recycling rate is currently between 25-30 percent.

By coincidence, the NYT’s John Tierney published an article yesterday looking back on changes in the recycling movement since his 1996 article debunking it became the most denounced story, measured by the number of  hostile readers responses, in that paper’s history. His conclusion: the religion has spread while the economics have hardened.

Tieney’s summary:

I realize that true believers don’t need rational reasons for their religion, but it would be nice to see a little soul-searching in regard to some stats in the article: To offset the greenhouse impact of one passenger’s round-trip flight between New York and London, you’d have to recycle roughly 40,000 plastic bottles, assuming you fly coach. If you sit in the front of the plane, it’s more like 100,000 bottles — and you have to make sure not to rinse any of them with hot water, because that little extra energy could more than cancel out any greenhouse benefit of your labors.

And an excerpt from the article:

Recycling has been relentlessly promoted as a goal in and of itself: an unalloyed public good and private virtue that is indoctrinated in students from kindergarten through college. As a result, otherwise well-informed and educated people have no idea of the relative costs and benefits.

They probably don’t know, for instance, that to reduce carbon emissions, you’ll accomplish a lot more by sorting paper and aluminum cans than by worrying about yogurt containers and half-eaten slices of pizza. Most people also assume that recycling plastic bottles must be doing lots for the planet. They’ve been encouraged by the Environmental Protection Agency, which assures the public that recycling plastic results in less carbon being released into the atmosphere.

But how much difference does it make? Here’s some perspective: To offset the greenhouse impact of one passenger’s round-trip flight between New York and London, you’d have to recycle roughly 40,000 plastic bottles, assuming you fly coach. If you sit in business- or first-class, where each passenger takes up more space, it could be more like 100,000.

Even those statistics might be misleading. New York and other cities instruct people to rinse the bottles before putting them in the recycling bin, but the E.P.A.’s life-cycle calculation doesn’t take that water into account. That single omission can make a big difference, according to Chris Goodall, the author of “How to Live a Low-Carbon Life.” Mr. Goodall calculates that if you wash plastic in water that was heated by coal-derived electricity, then the net effect of your recycling could be more carbon in the atmosphere.

To many public officials, recycling is a question of morality, not cost-benefit analysis. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York declared that by 2030 the city would no longer send any garbage to landfills. “This is the way of the future if we’re going to save our earth,” he explained while announcing that New York would join San Francisco, Seattle and other cities in moving toward a “zero waste” policy, which would require an unprecedented level of recycling.

The national rate of recycling rose during the 1990s to 25 percent, meeting the goal set by an E.P.A. official, J. Winston Porter. He advised state officials that no more than about 35 percent of the nation’s trash was worth recycling, but some ignored him and set goals of 50 percent and higher. [Connecticut’s goal is 60%] Most of those goals were never met and the national rate has been stuck around 34 percent in recent years.

“It makes sense to recycle commercial cardboard and some paper, as well as selected metals and plastics,” he says. “But other materials rarely make sense, including food waste and other compostables. The zero-waste goal makes no sense at all — it’s very expensive with almost no real environmental benefit.”

One of the original goals of the recycling movement was to avert a supposed crisis because there was no room left in the nation’s landfills. But that media-inspired fear was never realistic in a country with so much open space. In reporting the 1996 article I found that all the trash generated by Americans for the next 1,000 years would fit on one-tenth of 1 percent of the land available for grazing. And that tiny amount of land wouldn’t be lost forever, because landfills are typically covered with grass and converted to parkland, like the Freshkills Park being created on Staten Island. The United States Open tennis tournament is played on the site of an old landfill — and one that never had the linings and other environmental safeguards required today.

According to the E.P.A.’s estimates, virtually all the greenhouse benefits — more than 90 percent — come from just a few materials: paper, cardboard and metals like the aluminum in soda cans. That’s because recycling one ton of metal or paper saves about three tons of carbon dioxide, a much bigger payoff than the other materials analyzed by the E.P.A. Recycling one ton of plastic saves only slightly more than one ton of carbon dioxide. A ton of food saves a little less than a ton. For glass, you have to recycle three tons in order to get about one ton of greenhouse benefits. Worst of all is yard waste: it takes 20 tons of it to save a single ton of carbon dioxide.

And so on. Read the whole thing. As for plastic bag banning, that, too, is total bunkum, whether you’re talking energy savings – a reusable bag uses 100 X more energy to produce than a plastic bag, and that assumes that you don’t wash it, ever, in which case the next batch of leaking chicken parts you bring home may be your last – or saving sea turtles from dying – they don’t; not from plastic bags – entanglement in fishing nets is another story, but banning “free-range fishing” would deprive yuppies of their daily fix of blackened redfish – or even litter – the numbers, as demonstrated in the article I link to, as bunkum.

So why is our legislature forcing all this on innocent school children, and taking time way from the poor kids struggling to understand Common Core math? Because, like global warming, the new religion, where faith trumps facts, and all must bow to the new God. Very much like Islam, come to think of it.


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