Monthly Archives: March 2016

Huh – missed this one

34 Wescott

34 Wescott Street

(Try this link – it still has pictures up, as of this writing): 34 Wescott Street, Riverside NoPo, just sold for $730,000. I had to look Wescott Street up on the map, but it turns out, I’m on it frequently, I just hadn’t noticed the name – it’s the cut through from behind McDonalds to Sheephill Road.

Judging from its pictures, it’s not at all a bad little house, and shouldn’t require all that much money to bring it up to date. Mind you, spending a whole lot on this house, this location, wouldn’t be very smart to begin with, but there’s certainly room to invest a modest amount.

People in Maine would be sobbing hysterically if they saw what this kind of money buys down here but then, people in Maine don’t work on Wall Street. That makes them doubly  lucky, I suppose.


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It’s “in crisis” because no one wants one

Smart house flat illustration concept

You might as well burn up your cash by stacking it on your solar roof panels and waiting for a sunny day

Business Insider, which seems to be trying to replaces interns with real reporters (a distinction without a difference, probably), looks at the “smart home’ segment and declares a crisis.

There are many barriers preventing mass-market smart home adoption: high device prices, limited consumer demand [emphasis added] and long device replacement cycles. However, the largest barrier is the technological fragmentation of the smart home ecosystem, in which consumers need multiple networking devices, apps and more to build and run their smart home.

There’s not really a technology gap here, so far as I can see, there’s what economists call a “who the fuck wants or cares about it?” problem . Judging from the reaction of my clients, and those of other agents I’ve spoken with, the market for a “home environment” system controllable remotely by the owner, is about as large as that for Question systems; in other words, it’s non-existent. The smart home is an answer to a question that isn’t being asked.

My advice is that, if you are a real wonk about this stuff and have the money to indulge your electronic gadgetry obsession, gofer it, but don’t expect the next owner of your house to pay a penny for it. Like a swimming pool, which adds exactly nothing to the value of most homes, your surround sound/home heating/cooling/burglar alarmed/nanny watcher system won’t win buyers.

And unlike that swimming pool, your electronic gizmos will be obsolete by the time you resell.





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Sale, contract, and a price cut

6 lita

6 Lita Lane

6 Lita Drive, Greenwich, new construction, sold for $3.425 ( estimated its worth at $1.4 – something’s wrong with their algorithms). Not at all my cup of tea, especially what has to be one of the ugliest front exteriors of recent build, but Lita’s a close-in street and this one’s almost at the end of it, away from North Street, so that helps. No. 10 Lita, next door, sold for $3.57 in 2014, which makes this price seem sort of comparable, even at 1,000 feet less.

80 Round Hill Road

80 Round Hill Rd

80 Round Hill Road, asking $4.080 million, is under contract. 1938 house, and very attractive in a formal way. I wouldn’t imagine its kitchen will survive the new owners.



17 Sherwood Farm Lane, sister street to Stillman Drive, which we discussed yesterday, has cut its price to $4.595 million. Owners bought it from its builder for $4.9 for it in 2004 and have been trying to leave it since 2014. All the houses in this development are beautifully made, but they’ve struggled to hold their value, as I mentioned here back in 2012.

17 Sherwood

17 Sherwood Farm Lane


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Cognewaugh Contract

300 cognewaugh rd

300 Cognewaugh Rd

300 Cognewaugh Road, asking $1.975 million, just 69 days on the market. I think it’s a great house at this price, and it’s evidence that, in this current craze for 1/4 – acre lots in Riverside, some buyers still prefer three acres of privacy, even at the expense of a relatively inconvenient location.

Smart price, to sell so quickly; not instantly, mind you, but quick.


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Well I guess if it worked, okay, but ….


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Remember this later when the next town hire comes up for discussion

Last week’s decision by the BET to cut our Tax Assessor’s salary in half, to $49,000 is just fine with me; in fact, we should repeat that process for all town employees, starting at the Selectman’s office and working our way down from there. But how it was done, and the reasons for it are less appealing.

BET Democrat John Blankley, who proposed the cut, said it was not personal against Laudonia. The salary is too high for an elected official, he said, and the town should always ensure that the job should go to someone with the proper credentials and certification.

“For me this was the continuation of the campaign last fall when I supported our tax collector candidate, Howard Richman, whose platform was the abolition of the tax collector as an elected position,” Blankley said. “There is money to be saved by reorganizing that department and making its head an appointed official with demonstrated qualifications and credentials, just as we did with the tax assessor position.”

Laudonia, who who won re-election by a two-to-one margin and is a certified tax collector, was not buying that claim.

“John Blankley happened to be the treasurer and campaign confidante of my opponent and after they resoundingly lost three months later he floated a change in governance that was turned down by the people of Greenwich,” he said. “He’s not accountable to anyone.

Blankley may not be accountable to the town, but he certainly answers to his family and sees to its needs. For instance, his own daughter Katie was promoted to Town Planner, without the “requisite – until-waived” educational requirements, and now receives a salary well in excess of $100,000 (her predecessor, Diane Fox, was making $141,000 in 2012). I’m heading off to a meeting and don’t have time to find the definitive list of Town salaries – it’s hidden; perhaps a reader has a link – but  here’s a chart of what various “planners” make in Greenwich. 

Wanna save money? Start at Town Hall.

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Question, but no answer


Him, her, it, what?

I can no longer even figure these stories out. “Transgender woman raped in gay bar”.

Video surveillance clearly shows the woman entering the single-occupancy bathroom late Saturday night, soon followed by a man believed to be in his 30s, police sources say.

The woman, who was believed to be heavily impaired by alcohol and possibly prescription pills, alerted friends and called 911 a short time later, sources said. She was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital for treatment.

So is a “transgender woman” a woman who thinks she’s a man, or a man who thinks he’s a woman? Other than the port of entry the rapist might choose,I don’t guess it really maters, but as long as I’m wasting my time reading stories like this, it’d be nice to know who’s doing what to whom.


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Question and answer


Ecch – True love

Can kissing your dog make you sick?

Sick woman charged with having sex with her dog

Related: (well not really, but I’ve always liked the story)

Scene: Two elderly Englishmen, dining at their club

“Did you hear old Featherstone’s left his wife for his horse?”

“My lord, really? Mare or stallion?”

“Mare, of course; nothing queer about old Featherstone!”


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Out of the country or out of the office; I’ll take either one


And he still has time to check his bracket picks

Obama relaxes from his exhausting bend-over tour of latin American dictatorships by playing golf.

President Obama, fresh from his whirlwind spring break trip to Cuba and Argentina, hit the links for some R&R Saturday, playing his 281st round since becoming president. He was at Andrews for over five hours.

That is slightly more than three quarters of a year of days playing the presidential sport for Obama. The president typically plays for at least four hours, sometimes longer, putting his time at over 1,100 hours golfing, or at least 46 full 24-hour days.



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Price cuts announced

27 Doverton Drive

27 Doverton Drive

27 Doverton Drive, asked $7.8 million 287 days ago; it can now be yours for $7.445. It’s builder, Mark Mariani, of course – the picture tells you that – priced it at $11.750 when he built it as a spec home in 2007 and finally sold it to this owner for $8.1 in 2012. As today’s price cut shows, he overpaid.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with a Mariani house, I suppose, other than his odd insistence on laying raw wood floors the day they arrive rather than let them adjust to the ambient moisture content for a few weeks, as other builders do. Mariani says it makes no difference; from what I’ve observed, it does: the floors warp.

But the real complaint I have is that the guy builds exactly one model, “The Mariani”, as seen here. It must be disconcerting to drive through Greenwich and see 12 duplicates of your own house. And it can be dangerous: who among us can forget the incident where a commuter returned to town late at night, perhaps a bit tipsy, pulled up to his Mariani house and was happily entertaining the wife when her husband himself came home. Wrong house!

Hilarity ensued.

15 Stillman

15 Stillman Drive

15 Stillman Drive, which sold in 2006 for $5.5 million, has been marked down to $4.650 million just 30 days after coming on the market. Good move not to wait around at a price that doesn’t work, but will it be enough? Nice house, beautifully built, but the farmhouse look hasn’t been popular in Greenwich since the locals stopped shipping their produce to New York City by barge, back in 12879.

81 Husted Lane

81 Husted Lane

And the spec house at 81 Husted Lane, discussed here in January when it took its first price cut, has taken another, to $7.495. It started off a year ago at $8.575 million, so the must be a disappointment to its builders, but they paid just $2.1 for the land: still plenty of fat her.


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Not everyone was smashing little kids’ Easter Eggs this weekend

A bit of real estate was transacted, apparently.

9 lockwood

9 Lockwood Ave

9 Lockwood Avenue, Old Greenwich, $3.295 million, has a contract after 321 days. Owners basically held steady at their price for a year, and eventually got it (assuming the accepted offer is close to this ask).

24 Sylvan Lane

24 Sylvan Lane

24 Sylvan Lane, Old Greenwich, also has a contract. Asking $3.995 million, it was purchased for $4.125 in 2008.

8 Seagate Rd

8 Sea Gate Rd

8 Sea Gate Road, Riverside, down in Harbor Point and right on the water, reports a contract: asking price, $11.475 million. Fantastic house, and views, but the market obviously didn’t agree with its original $14 million price tag 88 days ago.



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And speaking of savage battles …

Easter Bunny

He has risen

These are the people who both parties are appealing to this election

Parents on rampage: Easter Egg hunt in Orange (say no more) Connecticut explodes .

An Easter egg hunt descended into chaos on Saturday after parents in Orange, Connecticut, stormed the field.

Children as young as four were trampled by adults in a rampage to steal buckets and grab as many of the 9,000 hidden eggs as possible from the third annual free event at the PEZ headquarters.

One four-year-old son was left ‘bloody’ on the sports field and a two-year-old girl was shoved into the mud, witnesses claimed.

A horrified parent described the scene as ‘an angry mob of chaos’ with ‘not one toddler hunting for eggs’ among the crowds of adults.



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Not necessarily relevant to anything in today’s news, but fascinating


Colossal Bronze Age battlefield discovered in “the backwaters” of Northern Europe.

I recommend reading the entire article,but here are a few excerpts to whet the appetite:

About 3200 years ago, two armies clashed at a river crossing near the Baltic Sea. The confrontation can’t be found in any history books—the written word didn’t become common in these parts for another 2000 years—but this was no skirmish between local clans. Thousands of warriors came together in a brutal struggle, perhaps fought on a single day, using weapons crafted from wood, flint, and bronze, a metal that was then the height of military technology.

Struggling to find solid footing on the banks of the Tollense River, a narrow ribbon of water that flows through the marshes of northern Germany toward the Baltic Sea, the armies fought hand-to-hand, maiming and killing with war clubs, spears, swords, and knives. Bronze- and flint-tipped arrows were loosed at close range, piercing skulls and lodging deep into the bones of young men. Horses belonging to high-ranking warriors crumpled into the muck, fatally speared. Not everyone stood their ground in the melee: Some warriors broke and ran, and were struck down from behind.

When the fighting was through, hundreds lay dead, littering the swampy valley. Some bodies were stripped of their valuables and left bobbing in shallow ponds; others sank to the bottom, protected from plundering by a meter or two of water. Peat slowly settled over the bones. Within centuries, the entire battle was forgotten.

In 1996, an amateur archaeologist found a single upper arm bone sticking out of the steep riverbank—the first clue that the Tollense Valley, about 120 kilometers north of Berlin, concealed a gruesome secret. A flint arrowhead was firmly embedded in one end of the bone, prompting archaeologists to dig a small test excavation that yielded more bones, a bashed-in skull, and a 73-centimeter club resembling a baseball bat. The artifacts all were radiocarbon-dated to about 1250 B.C.E., suggesting they stemmed from a single episode during Europe’s Bronze Age.

Now, after a series of excavations between 2009 and 2015, researchers have begun to understand the battle and its startling implications for Bronze Age society. Along a 3-kilometer stretch of the Tollense River, archaeologists from the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Department of Historic Preservation (MVDHP) and the University of Greifswald (UG) have unearthed wooden clubs, bronze spearheads, and flint and bronze arrowheads. They have also found bones in extraordinary numbers: the remains of at least five horses and more than 100 men. Bones from hundreds more may remain unexcavated, and thousands of others may have fought but survived.

“If our hypothesis is correct that all of the finds belong to the same event, we’re dealing with a conflict of a scale hitherto completely unknown north of the Alps,” says dig co-director Thomas Terberger, an archaeologist at the Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage in Hannover. “There’s nothing to compare it to.” It may even be the earliest direct evidence—with weapons and warriors together—of a battle this size anywhere in the ancient world.

Northern Europe in the Bronze Age was long dismissed as a backwater, overshadowed by more sophisticated civilizations in the Near East and Greece. Bronze itself, created in the Near East around 3200 B.C.E., took 1000 years to arrive here. But Tollense’s scale suggests more organization—and more violence—than once thought. “We had considered scenarios of raids, with small groups of young men killing and stealing food, but to imagine such a big battle with thousands of people is very surprising,” says Svend Hansen, head of the German Archaeological Institute’s (DAI’s) Eurasia Department in Berlin. The well-preserved bones and artifacts add detail to this picture of Bronze Age sophistication, pointing to the existence of a trained warrior class and suggesting that people from across Europe joined the bloody fray.

There’s little disagreement now that Tollense is something special. “When it comes to the Bronze Age, we’ve been missing a smoking gun, where we have a battlefield and dead people and weapons all together,” says University College Dublin (UCD) archaeologist Barry Molloy. “This is that smoking gun.”

At the time of the battle, northern Europe seems to have been devoid of towns or even small villages. As far as archaeologists can tell, people here were loosely connected culturally to Scandinavia and lived with their extended families on individual farmsteads, with a population density of fewer than five people per square kilometer. The closest known large settlement around this time is more than 350 kilometers to the southeast, in Watenstedt. It was a landscape not unlike agrarian parts of Europe today, except without roads, telephones, or radio.

And yet chemical tracers in the remains suggest that most of the Tollense warriors came from hundreds of kilometers away. The isotopes in your teeth reflect those in the food and water you ingest during childhood, which in turn mirror the surrounding geology—a marker of where you grew up. Retired University of Wisconsin, Madison, archaeologist Doug Price analyzed strontium, oxygen, and carbon isotopes in 20 teeth from Tollense. Just a few showed values typical of the northern European plain, which sprawls from Holland to Poland. The other teeth came from farther afield, although Price can’t yet pin down exactly where. “The range of isotope values is really large,” he says. “We can make a good argument that the dead came from a lot of different places.”

As University of Aarhus’s Vandkilde puts it: “It’s an army like the one described in Homeric epics, made up of smaller war bands that gathered to sack Troy”—an event thought to have happened fewer than 100 years later, in 1184 B.C.E. That suggests an unexpectedly widespread social organization, Jantzen says. “To organize a battle like this over tremendous distances and gather all these people in one place was a tremendous accomplishment,” he says.



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He promises, he delivers

Obama vows to stick to his promises to refugees: “come on in!”

Obama Freedom flight

Obama Freedom Flight returns

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Well then, maybe I’ll go see a Disney film for the first time since that studio killed poor Old Yeller

Keith Reed

Mr. Keith Reed University of Iowa film critic and English scholar

The Daily – Iowan: Disney’s preaching white supremacy 

Zootopia is a film about a young rabbit, Judy Hopps, and her dream to join the police force in the world populated by anthropomorphic mammals. Judy is denied a high position in the police force and is assigned meter-maid duty. All animals are bipedal regardless of their species. The animals that are usually prey in the animal kingdom are the dominant force and look down upon the predators. Throughout the whole world of Zootopia, the predators are bullied by the prey, and this is an amazing shift from reality. There is a strange occurrence happening in the film that involves many predators disappearing and going “savage.” Going savage includes going back to their natural state, which means going back on all fours and attacking prey. 

I believe the message present in the film is an allegory to the current status of the white population in contemporary society. The majority of the people who were involved in the writing of this film were white. This aligns with my idea of the allegory present in the movie. The prey are akin to minorities of the world, in the way that they get preyed on by the predators, which are white people.

In the real world, this can be proved by the many killings of innocent minorities without any legal action taken. Many people know of the power that white America has over the country. Representation in media and other outlets is mainly whitewashed, and it is difficult to find accurate portrayals of minorities.

The United States was in fact stolen from the Native Americans. I think this movie is a call to arms for the dominant group of the world (white people) to take control of what was supposedly theirs. This is not the message that Disney should be either subconsciously or consciously inserting into its films, even though there is a sordid history with the messages present in their past films. 

The depictions of minorities in Disney’s movies have always been lacking. In the Princess and the Frog, the “princess” protagonist is portrayed as a lowly frog for the majority of the movie. In Aladdin, Middle Easterners are portrayed as “barbaric” in the movie’s opening song. That the minorities are prey is similar to the way that minorities have always been portrayed: as weak. 

Disney needs to be more careful with the message it sends in its movies. Children are impressionable, and people such as me with younger family members will watch these movies and realize that there is apparent racism in the films. Disney needs to diversify its writing team to allow for an equal and accurate representation of minorities in the world.

Those who worry about the modern state of education will be disappointed to learn that the author of this incomprehensible piece in a college newspaper, one Keith Reed, is a young, unemployed black man currently a senior majoring in English at the University of Iowa.

Let’s parse this a bit.

” The animals that are usually prey in the animal kingdom are the dominant force and look down upon the predators.”

So, that means the “prey” are dominant, right?

“[T] he predators are bullied by the prey, and this is an amazing shift from reality.”

So, in the real world, it’s predators who bully their prey. Gotcha.

“The prey are akin to minorities of the world, in the way that they get preyed on by the predators, which are white people.”

Okay: the film depicts  “prey” – black people – as the dominant race, a race that scorns and mistreats white people, but are also “preyed on” by white people. How can that happen, if they’re so dominant?.

“I believe the message present in the film is an allegory to the current status of the white population in contemporary society. The majority of the people who were involved in the writing of this film were white. This aligns with my idea of the allegory present in the movie.”

And that allegory, as young master Reed sees it,

is  I think this movie is a call to arms for the dominant group of the world (white people) to take control of what was supposedly theirs.”

So the dominant group is black in the movie,  but the dominant group is white in the movie, and that shows how racist Disney is, according to Keith Reed.

What it really shows is a perfect example of why Reed is still looking for a job, and the unfairness of affirmative action admission programs that allow illiterates to matriculate and even get as far as their senior year, with no education and no prospects for employment – except as a professor at a university, of course.


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Cos Cob article

old pickup snowplow cos cob

Cos Cob ATM

Reader Cos Cobber brings our attention to a profile of Cos Cob that ran in yesterday’s WSJ.

Not too much that’s unexpected in it, but I’m glad it mentions the decision of the town, back a decade or so ago, to raze the existing elementary school and put up wire racks with brochures on careers in snow plowing and lawn mowing instead.

Most reporters ignore that cost-saving measure, and I’m not sure why.


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Easter is not a joyful story for some heathens


London’s new citizens. There’ll always be an England; it will just be a little different from what we’re used to

In Scotland, a 40-year-old Muslim shopkeeper who wished his Christian customers a Happy Easter is promptly stabbed to death by another Muslim.

“Everybody has said he was the nicest man. He was clearly much-loved. Everybody had nice stories to tell about him and warm stories. It’s just very, very sad.”

Scottish police say the killing of a Muslim shopkeeper who wished Christians a happy Easter is being investigated as “religiously prejudiced.”

Vigils were held Friday and Saturday in memory of 40-year-old Asad Shah, who was killed Thursday night in Glasgow.

He had apparently posted messages on Facebook calling for religious harmony: “Good Friday and very happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation x!”

Police say a 32-year-old man has been arrested in connection with Shah’s death. The suspect, who police say is Muslim, has not been identified or charged.

Earlier today I was thinking of what Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on the day of the Belgium bombings:

“In all these cases the terrorists have no resolvable grievances. It’s not as if we could offer them Brussels, or Istanbul, or California, or even the West Bank. That won’t satisfy their grievances. Because what they seek is our utter destruction and their total domination. Their basic demand is that we should simply disappear…. And that’s not going to happen.”

There can be no peace with the worst branch of Islam precisely because its adherents hate all others, including those of their own faith, and will continue to bomb, slaughter and rape all who won’t bow to their will. Worst of all, the politically correct among the rest of us are ensuring that this huge population of murderers grows, as is illustrated in this story from England:

British judge bars a Muslim father from takings son to a Christian church because the boy’s mother belongs to the fanatical sect.

A British father has been banned from taking his son to a church after the boy’s Muslim mother won a controversial court order preventing the boy from attending.

The father – a non-practising Muslim who has forged close connections to his local Christian community and is divorced from the boy’s mother – has been warned that he could be denied access to the nine-year-old if he attempts to take him to church or to a leisure centre it runs.

Last week, he lodged an appeal with the High Court to have the order overturned. ‘This judge is simply scared of being branded Islamophobic,’ he said. ‘I want my son to have a balanced life in which he is exposed to different faiths and can make up his own mind about which, if any, religion he follows.’

The father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said his ex-wife insisted their son, whom she is bringing up in the Muslim faith, could ‘become confused’ if he is subjected to other religions.

The man and his ex-wife married in 2003 and led a ‘Western lifestyle’.

‘That was important to me because of the strict religious manner in which I was brought up,’ he said.

‘I was taught that Christians were heartless and immoral, that only Muslims have a peaceful faith and all others are evil. It was only when I began mixing with Christians that I learned this was nonsense.’

But his Pakistani-born wife turned to the Muslim faith after her father’s death in 2007, when her mother told her that because he had not adhered to his faith he was in Hell, and would remain there unless she became a devout Muslim.

She began attending a madrasa – an Islamic place of learning – wearing a hijab and shunning the couple’s Christian friends. She left her husband in 2013, taking their son with her. The couple divorced last year.

The boy lives with his mother but sees his father every other weekend. ‘After my divorce, the Christian community embraced me,’ the man said.

‘They run many activities my son enjoys so I go to the church and would like to take my son.

‘But when his mother found out, she applied to the court and won the order which prevents the boy being taken to any Christian building.’

The order bars the father from taking the boy to any religious event. It decrees he must provide only Halal food and reassure the child he is ‘an ordinary Muslim boy following Muslim rules’.

‘My son is being indoctrinated and the only way I can show him other things is to take him to other places,’ said the father.

‘If I don’t show him other types of life he will become just like a dumb sheep. I want him to see and learn about different cultures.

‘This is nothing short of brain-washing him. Already he is telling me that I have a black heart, that I am a bad man, because I am not a practising Muslim. I am heartbroken that I have to keep him away from activities with local children.

‘He is being fed the same lies I was as a child and I want better for him. This judge was so busy being politically correct that she has ignored the influence of myself as a loving father. I am terrified that he will stop wanting to see me because of his indoctrination.’

And so it goes.



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They’ll just eat McWhoppers anyway, so why bother?


Danger, Will Robinson!

California delays mandating BPA warning signs of canned grocery goods, fearing it will scare the stupid and drive them away from earring their fruits and vegetables.

I’m with the social justice warriors on this one: if a chemical is so dangerous to health as to warrant a warning, shouldn’t the most vulnerable among us – the dumb, the illiterate, the confused, be protected first?

The first and the only people – the California chemophobics who passed this law all eat raw, not canned kale, so they’re okay. And besides, they’re possibly sophisticated enough to evaluate some risks on their own, like those who continue to use bicycles despite the presence of lead in their handlebar wrappings.

On the other hand, California’s Proposition 65, which requires warning labels on any product that contains even trace amounts of any one of over 800 chemicals has resulted in such blizzard of tags, alarms and scary thoughts that the whole scheme has dissolved to mostly white noise.

extension cord

Warning! Inserting plug into eye socket could put your eye out!



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As is dihydrogen monoxide, but that’s still used in food products (so far)

It’s an older (2013) story I just stumbled across, but it neatly captures the insanity of our modern world: 15-year-old’s petition causes Gatorade to remove brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from its drink after public is horrified to learn that BVO is also used as a flame retardant.

Extraordinary delusions and the madness of crowds is not a new phenomenon, but thanks to the Internet and gullible idiot news readers, what was once merely a curiosity and minor nuisance is now how we let ourselves be governed.

Wait til that little girl discovers dihydrogen monoxide – she’ll wet her pants.


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Well so much for idle curiosity about your ancestors

Police are now seizing DNA data bases from private companies like and 23andme 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Investigators are broadening their DNA searches beyond government databases and demanding genetic information from companies that do ancestry research for their customers.

Two major companies that research family lineage for fees around $200 say that over the last two years, they have received law enforcement demands for individual’s genetic information stored in their DNA databases.

Brave new world


I sent in a saliva sample and all I got was this lousy T shirt and a subpoena

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