Monthly Archives: May 2016

Interesting history on 14 Mead Avenue

My recent post on Fudrucker’s listing at 14 Mead Avenue elicited this message from Jeffrey Bingham Mead:

It is known as the Benjamin Smith House; his brother, George Jackson Smith, owned the Bush Holley House when it was a rooming house for railroad workers. I and my siblings are descendants of his.
The 14 Mead Avenue house is quite attractive. The price reduction makes it more so. Perhaps I will take a look! 🙂
It turns out that one of my guests on my weekly radio show on AM1490 WGCH lived there just after World War II, Allen Larsen. We met in Beijing last September 3 and 4. Allen is one of the last of the ‘Flying Tigers’ who served under General Chennault. When I sent Allen the link to the 14 Mead Avenue house he had many fond memories of the house and the people of Greenwich. He commuted to NYC from the Cos Cob Station for about five years.
I should mention that Benjamin’s sister was Caroline Mills Smith Mead, who may have been one of Greenwich’s earliest women real estate developers:

The  (second) link leads to this:

Caroline Mills Smith Mead’s Real Estate Developments in Cos Cob

In the June 11, 1910 announcement of Caroline Mills Smith Mead’s funeral it was mentioned that:

Mrs. Mead owned a large acreage of Cos Cob property, and although advanced in years was deeply interested in building up that part of the town, opening up her land into desirable building lots, handsome cottages having been built on many, Mrs. Mead’s wish being that only a good class of houses be constructed, and the attractive section known as Mead Circle, which has so rapidly built up the past few years, was a part of her holdings. 

A recent trip to the Greenwich Town Clerk’s office reaped a reward in the form of maps of Caroline’s subdivisions and and developments in Cos Cob:

Mead Avenue development


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Here’s another sale

21 Walsh Lane

21 Walsh Lane

21 Walsh Lane, purchased as land for $2.025 in 2004 and put back up for sale as land at $3.4 in 2006, was eventually built on by the purchaser in 2007 and has been for sale, between rentals, ever since, starting at $5.175 and closing, Friday, at $3.650. Even with the rental income figured in, this was probably not one of its builder’s more lucrative projects.


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Contracts and sales reported

5 Mimosa

5 Mimosa

5 Mimosa Dive, $1.595, has a contract. Asked $1.790 back in December and had to drop a bit, but Mimosa’s a good street and, in this price range, this is a good house.

44 Doubling

44 Doubling Rd

44 Doubling Road, which has been listed as both land and residence for $2.750 million, is also under contract. This one started at $3.350 million back in 2014; all good things come to those who drop their price.

12Long View

12 Long View

As with 12 Long View Avenue (the 3-house strip connecting Gilliam and Armstrong in Riverside), which dropped just a little from to $3.995 and is now pending. Interesting, its neighbor at #14, same build, same size house (5,600)and same size lot (0.3), has gone unsold since it hit the market in 2014 at $3.695. It’s now down to $3.595, but I guess these buyers wanted “new” new.

31 Heusted Drive

31 Heusted Drive

And one who didn’t have to wait at all; in fact, it never hit the MLS, is 31 Heusted Drive in Old Greenwich, reported today s sold for $2.9 million. New construction in the AE zone, it’s just 3,100 sq. ft. – that’s a lot to pay for  a square foot. Auto-correct, by the way, keeps changing “Heusted” to “Heisted”; in this case, I’m tempted to go with auto-correct.

61 Sherwood

61 Sherwood Avenue

61 Sherwood Avenue, (off Riversville) 2 acres in the 4-acre zone and asking$1.2 million, is pending.  The listing promises that “the picturesque setting with a captivating country ambiance affords an outstanding opportunity for both the main and guest houses to create a luxurious 21st century family compound. Garaging for three cars.” I’d think that, given the restrictions on such a severely undersized lot, any family compound might be suitable only for a family of circus midgets, but what do I know?

Still, $1.2 for a perfectly livable house on 2 acre seems like a deal. Sort of.
By the way, does “garaging for three cars (at least they didn’t say “vehicles”) strike you as just a tad pretentious for a $1.2 ranch?



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Third world sweat shops on their way to oblivion: now how will the workers’ families eat?


As you wish

Despite the fact that for people starving in impoverished countries one family member gaining employment in a factory meant survival for all, progressives in the First world deplored the existence of sweat shops and demanded their closure. Now, they’re getting their wish: Nike and Adidas are closing their factories in Asia and returning production to Europe and, soon, the US, where all work will be performed by robots.

It’s not just shoes, either. The cheap labor haven of China is slowly but surely giving way to the “no labor” movement which can be set up closer to the target market for the products, reducing shipping costs and import regulatory issues. Foxconn, a major electronics manufacturer which supplies components to Apple, retooled it’s manufacturing hub in Jiangsu province, China, eliminating 60,000 jobs in a single day when it was announced. The facility is now run essentially by robots for all the day to day manufacturing work. That represented more than a third of their massive work force wiped out and sent home all at once.

This will be ever so much better for the progressives – now they can enjoy their running shoes and iPhones without having to worry that someone suffered to make them. And the fomer workers who will now fall back into abject poverty will do so far, far away, out of sight and out of mind.


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Well, isn’t some unborn child lucky then?

Turkey baster

She probably thought this was a remote control

Lesbian BBC reporter, now 60, says she doesn’t regret choosing her career instead of bearing children.

She has made plenty of sacrifices over her 30-year career at the BBC – not least her decision to remain childless.

But diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall has said she does not regret her choice, preferring a successful career over starting a family.

No, this story is not found in The Onion, though one wishes it were.


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The science is settled: computer models proving global warming are bunkum

AGs aagainst global warming

High priests of the Church of Holy Gaia announce the opening of the Inquisition, “for your own good”

For this we’re supposed to shut down the economy?

NYT, March 30, 2016: Climate model predicts Antarctic ice sheet could melt rapidly 

For half a century, climate scientists have seen the West Antarctic ice sheet, a remnant of the last ice age, as a sword of Damocles hanging over human civilization.

The great ice sheet, larger than Mexico, is thought to be potentially vulnerable to disintegration from a relatively small amount of global warming, and capable of raising the sea level by 12 feet or more should it break up. But researchers long assumed the worst effects would take hundreds — if not thousands — of years to occur.

Now, new research suggests the disaster scenario could play out much sooner.

Continued high emissions of heat-trapping gases could launch a disintegration of the ice sheet within decades, according to a study published Wednesday, heaving enough water into the ocean to raise the sea level as much as three feet by the end of this century.

With ice melting in other regions, too, the total rise of the sea could reach five or six feet by 2100, the researchers found. That is roughly twice the increase reported as a plausible worst-case scenario by a United Nations panel just three years ago, and so high it would likely provoke a profound crisis within the lifetimes of children being born today.

Ecowatch, March 28, 2015: Antartica’s ice is melting at record pace

But in fact Antartica isn’t warming and its ice isn’t melting.

May 30, 2016: Scientists at University of Washington and MIT explain that ocean currents may explain why Antarctica isn’t warming.

‘With rising carbon dioxide you would expect more warming at both poles, but we only see it at one of the poles, so something else must be going on,’ said lead author Kyle Armour, an assistant professor of oceanography and of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

‘We show that it’s for really simple reasons, and ocean currents are the hero here.’

Gale-force westerly winds that constantly whip around Antarctica act to push surface water north, cause water from up to two miles (3.2km) below to be pulled up to the surface.

The Southern Ocean’s water comes from such great depths – and from sources that are so distant – that it will take centuries before the water reaching the surface has experienced modern global warming.

This study cannot even be mentioned in Portland Oregon classrooms because the school board their has forbidden any mention of any doubt about global warming and ordered the removal of any such material from all textbooks.

The attorney generals in at least 20 states are already preparing criminal charges against those who question global warming, and will presumably be moving against these scientists in the near future. In fact, this blog could very well be prosecuted  by Connecticut’s own Attorney General, because he’s one of those 20 who has vowed to crack down on “climate fraud”.

What I keep asking here is why, if global warming is real, do those who insist it’s true also insist on lying about it? Real science puts forth a premises and either proves or disproves it. Religion in its worse form simply declares something to be true and burns at the stake those who deny it. Global warming is a religion, and a very bad one at that.


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Okay, now you’ve done it; just wait until your father gets home


The politics of joy

WSJ editor: Trump must be ‘decisively rebuked’ so ‘Republican voters learn their lesson’.

It’s important that Donald Trump and what he represents — this kind of ethnic quote, ‘conservatism,’ or populism be so decisively rebuked that the Republican Party, the Republican voters will forever learn their lesson that they cannot nominate a man so manifestly unqualified to be president in any way, shape or form. So they have to learn a lesson in the way perhaps Democrats learned from McGovern in ’72.

I’m not a Trump fan, but I’me even less of a fan of establishment Republicans telling conservatives how they should just shut up and let the parents run things. This is the same group of blowhards that rejected Ronald Reagan and offered us Ricard Nixon instead. Nixon did indeed wallop McGoevern, and presumably taught the Democrats a lesson, but it should have taught betrayed Republicans a lesson too: Vote for the establishment’s “electable” candidate and you’ll get an electable liberal.

This article neatly sums up the accomplishments of the WSJ’s candidate back then:

Nixon, “America’s last liberal” (but not our last crook, alas).

… Herbert Stein, Nixon’s chief economic adviser, … once wrote, “Probably more new regulation was imposed on the economy during the Nixon Administration than in any other presidency since the New Deal.” In a single day in 1971, Nixon famously imposed wage and price controls in a naïve attempt to curb inflation, ended the U.S.’s last ties to the gold standard, effectively devalued the dollar, and imposed a 10 percent import surcharge. The list of agencies he created from scratch includes the EPA, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He signed the command-and-control Clean Air Act into law and instituted racial quotas as federal policy. “Incredible but true,” Fortune magazine recalled upon Nixon’s death in 1994. “It was the Nixonites that gave us employment quotas.” As historian Joan Hoff has noted, “Not until the Nixon administration did ‘affirmative action’ begin to become synonymous with ‘civil rights.’”


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Parkway school students take a field trip to an indoctrination center


Parkway student poses in front of “Santa’s Butt Plug” at the Brant Foundation Museum of Art

They were all off to Peter Brant’s place to view and discuss “political artist” Joseph Horowitz’s work.

This week, students in grades K, 2, 3 and 5 explored the work of artist, Jonathan Horowitz.  Horowitz’s exhibit focuses  on political and social issues, and was a perfect way to conclude the academic year as fifth grade students just finished up their classroom debates, and third graders are just completing their study of social issues.  Parkway students were especially engaged and excited by The Brant Foundation’s Director of Education, Emily McElwreath’s comprehensive tour.

One feature of the exhibit contains a wall filled with silkscreens of blue Pepsi cans and red Coca-Cola cans, and quickly grabbed the attention of the students who connected it to the colors of the Democratic and Republican parties.  In front of the cans, a work titled, “Contribution Cubes,” made up of 12 plexi boxes fills the gallery floor. Each box is labeled with the name of a different charitable or political organization. Visitors are encouraged to leave monetary donations for the organizations that they would like to support

The surrounding walls are filled with the hanging portraits of our past 42 presidents, with the lone portrait of President Obama, leaning against a wall beneath an empty hook.  Students eyes wandered throughout the room, and were then asked “What do you notice about the portraits of presidents hanging here?”

An observant student* replied, “They are all men!” which led to a conversation about Hillary Clinton and the current presidential election.

Students noted that causes like, The National Rifle Association,  have thus far received less support from The Brant Foundation visitors when compared to causes like, Black Lives Matter, and, The Human Rights Campaign.

At the end of the tour, each student created a unique multimedia project that reflected a cause important to each child.  Themes of recycling, protecting animals, pollution prevention, and ‘Going Green’ were shown in many of the pieces.

Students left with renewed energy for social causes, and wondered aloud if Horowitz would hang a picture of the next President of the United States.

Here’s Greenwich Time’s own reporting on the subject:

At just 8 years old,  Allison Brant’s daughter, Evelyn, something strange as she walked through the centerpiece of artist Jonathan Horowitz’s new exhibit: she was standing in a room surrounded by images of just men.

“She asked me, ‘Why aren’t there any girls?’” said Brant, the director of the Brant Foundation Art Study Center. [*wait wait wait – is this the “observant student” mentioned in the article above? You mean she was coached by her mother, who just happened to be conducting the tour for young Evelyn and her classmates? I’m shocked; shocked, I say!]

… The portraits, featuring the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and George H.W. Bush, stuck out to Brant’s daughter during an election year where one of the presumptive presidential nominees happens to be a woman.

….Just down the hall, though, hangs a portrait of Hillary Clinton on a stark white wall, accompanied by an audio installation recorded shortly after the caucuses in Iowa earlier this year. Along with that piece, “I, Hillary,” Horowitz included a bronze statue of the former secretary of state in the space. Based on a Mother’s Day figurine from the 1970s, “Hillary Clinton Is A Person Too” aims to make a statement on sexism in the current political culture in the United States, though he created it almost eight years ago.

“I changed the caption to reflect how the most respected woman in America is also the most despised, which says a lot about our political culture, and sadly, the still prevalent sexism of our general culture,” Horowitz said. [Although he doesn’t seem to have asked himself why she’s the most despised  – I wonder whether the school children’s teachers did – snort] 

Both the Obama and Clinton installations reflect the political bent of Horowitz’s latest exhibit “Occupy Greenwich,” located in the Greenwich countryside at the Brant Foundation. “At this moment in time, he made perfect sense to show in this political climate and during an election year,” Brant said.

Paying homage to 2011’s anti-Wall Street protest movement, “Occupy Greenwich” poses the question: What does it mean for art to be political?

“The title is a bit of a jab, but I’m jabbing myself as much as anyone,” Horowtiz said. “Obviously, I’m not occupying Greenwich in the way that protesters occupied Wall Street. In the end, the way in which I’m occupying Greenwich is up to the viewer to decide.”



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Ah, about those “green” battery cars


Every bit as scenic as a copper or uranium mine, and who doesn’t like those?

News of a study released this month showing that electric cars are hardly better than conventional cars when it comes to particle pollution went mostly ignored by the media, which is in love with the things, but perhaps it shouldn’t have been.

Electric cars may not spew the same CO2 emissions as their internal-combustion cousins, but when it comes to another type of pollution – particle matter – they may not be as squeaky clean. A new study published by the journal ScienceDirect claims that due to their increased weight, electric cars produce about the same particle emissions as gas and diesel cars.

Particulate matter consists of small particles and liquid droplets — everything from hydrocarbons to lead, zinc, and iron — suspended in the air. Even if it’s not in a gaseous state, it’s still air pollution, and sometimes called “particle pollution.”

“Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including: premature death in people with heart or lung disease; nonfatal heart attacks; irregular heartbeat; aggravated asthma; decreased lung function; and increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Electric-powered vehicles, of course, have no exhaust emissions. However, because they’re 24 percent heavier on average, the study found that EVs shed more particulate matter from tires and brakes, and also kick up more particulate matter from road surfaces.

When you combine the benefit of having no engine exhaust with the penalty of additional weight, the study claims that when it comes to total particle emissions, electric vehicles are only 1 to 3 percent cleaner than internal-combustion vehicles.

We’ll ignore, for now, the fact that electric cars must be charged with electricity, almost all of which is produced by coal or gas, because the greens don’t want to know about that – the future lies with solar and wind generation, and although those don’t actually exists, yet, there’s always tomorrow, so why worry about CO2 emissions today?

But electric cars hold all that energy generated by …er, whatever … in huge batteries, and those batteries require massive amounts of lithium. At least until Tesla starts mining the stuff in Nevada, when all holy hell will erupt, the environmental consequences of lithium mining are restricted to Argentina and Chile, far removed from American Prius owner’s eyes (lithium mining is also ruining Tibet, but that product is used over there, removing it even further from American sensitivities). So news of the ecological disaster occasioned by Tesla et als has yet to hit college campuses – it will.

How harmful is lithium mining to the environment? Well,it’s found in salt brines, in now-dry desert areas, and it requires lots of water to extract it, and then that same water, now richly polluted, is dumped back on the ground. That has some eco-warriors concerned:

Friends of the Earth, Europe states:

The extraction of lithium has significant environmental and social impacts, especially due to water pollution and depletion. In addition, toxic chemicals are needed to process lithium. The release of such chemicals through leaching, spills or air emissions can harm communities, ecosystems and food production. Moreover, lithium extraction inevitably harms the soil and also causes air contamination.

And, the European Commission on Science for Environmental Policy states that “[lithium’s] continued use needs to be monitored, especially as lithium mining’s toxicity and location in places of natural beauty can cause significant environmental, health, and social impacts.”

I’m not actually against mining, or fracking, or even warm houses in winter: I support those things. So it drives me to distraction when the green crowd, that uses the products of mining and fracking and also enjoys being warm in the winter just like I do, insists that we can eliminate pollution simply by passing laws and regulations that make reality go away.

Here are some excerpts from a speech given by Mr  Keith O. Rattie, CEO of a natural gas company, to college students in Utah back in 2009 – I wish it could be read at every commencement ceremony held in the country this year, but failing that, read it yourself:

Energy Myths and Realities
Keith O. Rattie
Chairman, President and CEO
Questar Corporation
Utah Valley University
April 2, 2009

Good morning, everyone. I‟m honored to join you today.

I see a lot of faculty in the audience, but I‟m going to address my remarks today primarily to you students of this fine school.

Thirty-three years ago I was where you are today, about to graduate (with a degree in electrical engineering), trying to decide what to do with my career. I chose to go to work for an energy company – Chevron – on what turned out to be a false premise: I believed that by the time I reached the age I am today that America and the world would no longer be running on fossil fuels. Chevron was pouring money into alternatives – and they had lots of money and the incentive to find alternatives – and I wanted to be part of the transition.

Fast forward 33 years. Today, you students are being told that before you reach my age America and the world must stop using fossil fuels.
I‟m going to try to do something that seems impossible these days – and that’s have an honest conversation about energy policy, global warming and what proposed “cap and trade‟ regulation means for you, the generation that will have to live with the consequences of the policy choices we make ….

The long term goal with cap and trade is “80 by 50‟– an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. Let‟s do the easy math on what „80 by 50‟ means to you, using Utah as an example. Utah‟s carbon footprint today is about 66 MM tons of CO2 per year. Utah’s population today is 2.6 MM. You divide those two numbers, and the average Utahan today has a carbon footprint of about 25 tons of CO2 per year. An 80% reduction in Utah‟s carbon footprint by 2050 implies a reduction from 66 MM tons today to about 13 MM tons per year by 2050. But Utah‟s population is growing at over 2% per year, so by 2050 there will be about 6 MM people living in this state. 13 MM tons divided by 6 MM people = 2.2 tons per person per year. Under “80 by 50‟ by the time you folks reach my age you‟ll have to live your lives with an annual carbon allowance of no more than 2.2 tons of CO2 per year.

Question: when was the last time Utah‟s carbon footprint was as low as 2.2 tons per person per year? Answer: probably not since Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers first entered the Salt Lake Valley (1847).

You reach a similar conclusion when you do the math on “80 by 50‟ for the entire U.S. “80 by 50‟ would require a reduction in America‟s CO2 emissions from about 20 tons per person per year today, to about 2 tons per person per year in 2050. When was the last time America‟s carbon footprint was as low as 2 tons per person per year? Probably not since the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620.

In short, “80 by 50” means that by the time you folks reach my age, you won’t be allowed to use anything made with – or made possible by – fossil fuels.

So I want to focus you on this critical question: “How on God’s green earth – pun intended – are you going to do what my generation said we’d do but didn’t – and that’s wean yourselves from fossil fuels in just four decades?” That’s a question that each of you, and indeed, all Americans need to ask now – because when it comes to “how” there clearly is no consensus. Simply put, with today‟s energy technologies, we can‟t get there from here.

The hallmark of this dilemma is our inability to reconcile our prosperity and our way of life with our environmental ideals. We like our cars. We like our freedom to “move about the country” – drive to work, fly to conferences, visit distant friends and family. We aspire to own the biggest house we can afford. We like to keep our homes and offices warm in the winter, cool in the summer. We like devices that use electricity – computers, flat screen TVs, cell phones, the Internet, and many other conveniences of modern life that come with a power cord. We like food that’s low cost, high quality, and free of bugs – which means farmers must use fertilizers and pesticides made from fossil fuels. We like things made of plastic and clothes made with synthetic fibers – and all of these things depend on abundant, affordable, growing supplies of energy.

And guess what? We share this planet with 6.2 billion other people who all want the same things.

America’s energy use has been growing at 1-2% per year, driven by population growth and prosperity. But while our way of life depends on ever-increasing amounts of energy, we’re downright schizophrenic when it comes to the things that energy companies must do to deliver the energy that makes modern life possible.

We want energy security – we don‟t like being dependent on foreign oil. But we also don‟t like drilling in the U.S. Millions of acres of prospective onshore public lands here in the Rockies plus the entire east and west coast of the U.S. are off-limits to drilling for a variety of reasons. We hate paying $2 per gallon for gasoline – but not as much as we hate the refineries that turn unusable crude oil into gasoline. We haven’t allowed anyone to build a new refinery in the U.S. in over 30 years. We expect the lights to come on when we flip the switch, but we don‟t like coal, the source of 40% of our electricity – it‟s dirty and mining scars the earth. We also don‟t like nuclear power, the source of nearly 20% of our electricity – it’s clean, France likes it, but we’re afraid of it. Hydropower is clean and renewable. But it too has been blacklisted – dams hurt fish.

…Let me suggest that our conversation about how to reduce CO2 emissions must begin with a few “inconvenient” realities.

Reality 1: Worldwide demand for energy will grow by 30-50% over the next two decades – and more than double by the time you’re my age. Simply put, America and the rest of the world will need all the energy that markets can deliver.

Reality 2: There are no near-term alternatives to oil, natural gas, and coal. Like it or not, the world runs on fossil fuels, and it will for decades to come. The U.S. government’s own forecast shows that fossil fuels will supply about 85% of world energy demand in 2030 – roughly the same as today. Yes, someday the world may run on alternatives. But that day is still a long way off. It’s not about will. It’s not about who’s in the White House. It’s about thermodynamics and economics.

Now, I was told back in the 1970s what you‟re being told today: that wind and solar power are “alternatives‟ to fossil fuels. A more honest description would be “supplements‟. Taken together, wind and solar power today account for just one-sixth of 1% of America‟s annual energy usage. Let me repeat that statistic – one-sixth of 1%.

Over the past 30 years our government has pumped roughly $20 billion in subsidies into wind and solar power, and all we’ve got to show for it is this thin line!

Undaunted by this, President Obama proposes to double wind and solar power consumption in this country by the end of his first term. Great – that means the line on this pie chart would become a slightly thicker line in four years. I would point out that wind and solar power doubled in just the last three years of the Bush administration. Granted, W. started from a smaller baseline, so doubling again over the next four years will be a taller order. But if President Obama‟s goal is achieved, wind and solar together will grow from one-sixth of 1% to one-third of 1% of total primary energy use – and that assumes U.S. energy consumption remains flat, which of course it will not.

The problems with wind and solar power become apparent when you look at their footprint. To generate electricity comparable to a 1,000 MW gas-fired power plant you‟d have to build a wind farm with at least 500 very tall windmills occupying more than 30,000 acres of land. Then there’s solar power. I‟m holding a Denver Post article that tells the story of an 8.2 MW solar-power plant built on 82 acres in Colorado. The Post proudly hails it “America‟s most productive utility-scale solar electricity plant”. But when you account for the fact that the sun doesn‟t always shine, you‟d need over 250 of these plants, on over 20,000 acres to replace just one 1,000 MW gas-fired power plant that can be built on less than 40 acres.

The Salt Lake Tribune recently celebrated the startup of a 14 MW geothermal plant near Beaver, Utah. That‟s wonderful! But the Tribune failed to put 14 MW into perspective. Utah has over 7,000 MW of installed generating capacity, primarily coal. America has about 1,000,000 MW of installed capacity. Because U.S. demand for electricity has been growing at 1-2 % per year, on average we’ve been adding 10-20,000 MW of new capacity every year to keep pace with growth. Around the world coal demand is booming – 200,000 MW of new coal capacity is under construction, over 30,000 MW in China alone. In fact, there are 30 coal plants under construction in the U.S. today that when complete will burn about 70 million tons of coal per year.

Why has my generation failed to develop wind and solar? Because our energy choices are ruthlessly ruled, not by political judgments, but by the immutable laws of thermodynamics. In engineer-speak, turning diffused sources of energy such as photons in sunlight or the kinetic energy in wind requires massive investment to concentrate that energy into a form that‟s usable on any meaningful scale.
What‟s more, the wind doesn‟t always blow and the sun doesn‟t always shine. Unless or until there‟s a major breakthrough in high-density electricity storage – a problem that has confounded scientists for more than 100 years – wind and solar can never be relied upon to provide base load power.

But it’s not just thermodynamics. It’s economics. Over the past 150 years America has invested trillions of dollars in our existing energy systems – power plants, the grid, steam and gas turbines, railroads, pipelines, distribution, refineries, service stations, home heating, boilers, cars, trucks and planes, etc. Changing that infrastructure to a system based on renewable energy will take decades and massive new investment.

To be clear, we need all the wind and solar power the markets can deliver at prices we can afford. But please, let’s get real – wind and solar are not “alternatives” to fossil fuels.

What would it take to cut U.S. CO2 emissions by 1.2 billion tons per year by 2012? A lot more sacrifice than riding a Schwinn to work or school, or changing light bulbs.

We could’ve banned gasoline. In 2005 gasoline use in America caused about 1.1B tons of CO2. That would almost get us there. Or, we could shut down over half of the coal-fired power plants in this country. Coal plants generated about 2 B tons of CO2 in 2005. Of course, before we did that we‟d have to get over 60 million Americans and a bunch of American businesses to volunteer to go without electricity.

This simple math is not friendly to those who demand that government mandate sharp cuts in manmade CO2 emissions – now.

Reality 4: Even if America does cut CO2 emissions, those same computer models that predict man-made warming over the next century also predict that Kyoto-type CO2 cuts would have no discernible impact on global temperatures for decades, if ever. When was the last time you read that in the paper? We‟ve been told that Kyoto was “just a first step.” Your generation may want to ask: “what‟s the second step?”

That begs another question: “how much are Americans willing to pay for “a first step‟ that has no discernible effect on global climate?” The answer here in Utah is: not much, according to a poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates published in the Deseret News. 63% of those surveyed said they worry about global warming. But when asked how much they‟d be willing to see their electricity bills go up to help cut CO2 emissions, only half were willing to pay more for electricity. Only 18% were willing to see their power bill go up by 10% or more. Only 3% were willing to see their power bill go up by 20%.

Here‟s the rub: many Europeans today pay up to 20% more for electricity as a result of their failed efforts to sever the link between modern life and CO2 emissions.


Seventh (for anyone who‟s still counting!) it’s time to have an honest conversation about alternative responses to global warming than what will likely be a futile attempt to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. What about adapting to warming? In truth, while many scientists believe man‟s use of fossil fuels is at least partly responsible for global warming, many also believe the amount of warming will be modest and the planet will easily adapt. Just about everyone agrees that a modest amount of warming won‟t harm the planet. In fact, highly respected scientists such as Harvard astrophysicist Willie Soon believe that added CO2 in the atmosphere may actually benefit mankind because more CO2 helps plants grow. When was the last time you read that in the paper?

You‟ve no doubt heard the argument that even if global warming turns out not to be as bad as some are saying, we should still cut CO2 emissions – as an insurance policy – the so-called precautionary principle. While appealing in its simplicity, there are three major problems with the precautionary principle.

[T] he media dwells on the potential harm from global warming, but ignores the fact that the costs borne to address it will also do harm. We have a finite amount of wealth in the world. We have a long list of problems – hunger, poverty, malaria, nuclear proliferation, HIV, just to name a few. Your generation should ask: how can we do the most good with our limited wealth? The opportunity cost of diverting a large part of current wealth to solve a potential problem 50-100 years from now means we do “less good” dealing with our current problems.

Third, economists will tell you that the consequence of a cap and trade tax on energy will be slower economic growth. Slower growth, compounded over decades, means that we leave future generations with less wealth to deal with the consequences of global warming, whatever they may be.

In truth, humans are remarkably adaptive. People live north of the Arctic Circle where temperatures are below zero most of the year. Roughly one-third of mankind today lives in tropical climates where temperatures routinely exceed 100 degrees. In fact, you can take every one of the theoretical problems caused by global warming and identify lower-cost ways to deal with that problem than rationing energy use. For example, if arctic ice melts and causes the sea level to rise, a wealthier world will adapt over time by moving away from the beach or building retaining walls to protect beachfront property. Fine, you say. But how do we save the polar bear? I‟d first point out that polar bears have survived sometimes dramatic climate changes over thousands of years, most recently the so called “medieval warm period” (1000-1300 A.D.) in which large parts of the arctic glaciers disappeared and Greenland was truly “green”. Contrary to that heart-wrenching image on the cover of Time of an apparently doomed polar bear floating on a chunk of ice, polar bears can swim for miles. In addition, more polar bears die each year from gunshot wounds than from drowning. So instead of rationing carbon energy, maybe the first thing we should do to protect polar bears is to stop shooting them!

Let me close by returning to the lessons my generation learned from the 1970s energy crisis. We learned that energy choices favored by politicians but not confirmed by markets are destined to fail. If history has taught us anything it‟s that we should resist the temptation to ask politicians to substitute their judgments for that of the market, and let markets determine how much energy gets used, what types of energy get used, where, how and by whom energy gets used. In truth, no source of energy is perfect, thus only markets can weigh the pros and cons of each source. Government‟s role is to set reasonable standards for environmental performance, and make sure markets work.




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Seems like a strong argument for merit pay for teachers


Mr. Ian Tiedemann, Will Goodman, Aaron Peterson, Alex Khan, Alex Luna and Jack Kerry Credit: Leslie Yager

Greenwich Free Press profiles GHS teacher and the boys who started an economics club.

Recently recognized as one of Greenwich Schools Distinguished Teachers, Mr. Tiedemann has his students’ best interests at heart. So when a couple [of] sophomore boys approached him about starting an Economics Club, that is both the reason why he said yes, and the reason he hesitated.

“They all have extra curriculars and sports already,” he said. “When they approached me, I hesitated,” he added, referring to Will Goodman and Alex Luna from the GHS Frisbee Club he supervised for many years until it was phased out due to a shortage of fields.

And there were other considerations. Not only does Mr. Tiedemann supervise Model UN, which is a huge time commitment that involves travel with students as far away as Philadelphia, New York City, Princeton and Washington DC, but he also commutes to Wilton. And did we mention, he and his wife are expecting their first child.

“But the students were interested in learning, versus getting a grade,” Tiedemann said, hinting at why he ultimately did not decline the boys’ request. “These guys care about learning.”

Tiedemann, who has taught AP Economics for three years in addition to 9th grade Global studies, said he was impressed the boys wanted to learn on their own, outside class, and not get credit for it. “They wanted to learn this subject on their own. That’s why I couldn’t say no.”

… Fast forward to spring time. A team of four boys from the Economics Club – all just sophomores –  took first place for the David Ricardo Division of the National Economics Challenge. They also took 10th place nationally. What’s amazing is that none of them having taken an economics course!

It’s rude to intrude on a feel-good story about some remarkable students and an amazing teacher, but I can’t help thinking that if teachers like Tiedemann were compensated way above the pay scale of the drones merely putting in time towards their retirement, there would be a bit more justice in this world. And who knows? A system like that might draw in more people who love to teach and have the intelligence to do it.



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Tomorrow, will the warmists finally shut down this horror?

Nazi car race

Aber wird es genug juden leer?

Sunday will mark the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, and Ed Driscoll says “enough”.

Al Gore and his confreres argue time and again that Americans must change their habits and culture to avoid the ecological holocaust. Chief among these changes is for Americans to give up their addiction to driving, or driving “unnecessarily.”

… If global warming is the moral equivalent of the Holocaust, aren’t NASCAR races the moral equivalent of corporate-sponsored, televised neo-Nazi rallies? NASCAR creates greenhouse gasses for pure entertainment. Millions of people drive to these races, poisoning the atmosphere, to watch grown men poison the atmosphere even more. Where is the condemnation?

Environmentalists like Gore who invoke the Holocaust are too afraid to follow through. They want all the credit for denouncing what they consider a moral horror, but they’re unwilling actually to face the real consequences of their rhetoric. I don’t believe global warming is akin to the Holocaust. But if I did, I’d like to think I’d have more courage about it than Gore is showing.


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Worried that your $5 million home won’t sell? Cheer up Bucko, others have it worse


Pierre Cardin meets Star Wars: “Bubble Palace”, $455 million The name should be, but isn’t meant to be ironic

NYT: Pileup of $100 million homes is worrisome sign of bubble

A record 27 properties with nine-figure prices are officially for sale, according to Christie’s International Real Estate. That is up from 19 last year and about a dozen in 2014.

If you add in high-priced “whisper listings” that are offered privately, brokers say the actual number of nine-figure listings worldwide could easily top 40 or 50.

“When you have a record number of homes for sale at a price point of $100 million or more, that tells you these homes aren’t selling,” said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Inc., a real estate appraisal and research firm. “It’s not as deep a market as some might hope.”

Last year, only two homes in the world sold for over $100 million, according to Christie’s.

The far cheaper homes here in Greenwich aren’t doing so badly, in comparison. There are currently 206 at $5 and above listed for sale, but 14 more of them are under contract (some for over a year, so who knows what’s happening with that) and an additional 13 have already sold. There were 24 sales last year in this same time period, but life’s always a series of ups and down, so get used to it.

For all of last year, 64 $5+ homes sold. We’re not on track to repeat that this year, but if we can get to 20, we’re only looking at a 10 year inventory (unless still more come on the market in the next decade, but who’d do that?)

For the truly wealthy, assuming there are actually 50 $100 million houses for sale, at a 2-per-year sell rate, that crowd’s staring at a 25 year wait.

See? Feel better now? Of course you do.


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But her laundry still came out yellow – I don’t get it

Advertisement for Chinese soap promises it will make things bright and white again, but fails.


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For enduring life under the Westchester Airport flight path?

Low flying plane over school

Brunswick lacrosse team carries on

Brunswick honored by FAA


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Haven’t we heard this before?

delinq-forecl.pngIt’s back, thanks to our politicized, nationalized mortgage lending process: Wells Fargo (re) launches a 3%  down, low interest mortgage backed by Fannie Mae.

We are fully underwriting the borrowers, we are partnering with Fannie Mae to originate and sell these loans, we are ensuring the borrowers have an ability to repay and that they’re qualified for home ownership, but we’re simplifying things for the homebuyer,” said Brad Blackwell, executive vice president and portfolio business manager at Wells Fargo.

Branded “yourFirstMortgage,” Wells Fargo’s new product has a minimum down payment of 3 percent for a fixed-rate conventional mortgage of up to $417,000. Down payment help can come from gifts and community-assistance programs. Customers are not required to complete a homebuyer education course, but if they do, they may earn a 1/8 percent interest rate reduction. The minimum FICO score for these loans, which are underwritten according to Fannie Mae standards, is 620. Mortgage insurance can either be rolled in to the cost of the loan or purchased separately by the borrower.

Blackwell said either way, the monthly payment is less than a government-insured FHA loan. More importantly, it’s simpler than other 3 percent down payment products already in the market, some of which have specific income and counseling requirements.

Those with long memories (8 years) will recall that this all ended badly before, but of course, this time is different.


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Attn. shoppers: Bluelight Special on Mead Avenue

14 Mead

14 Mead Avenue

14 Mead Avenue, an 1848 home in Cos Cob, has been reduced to $1.050 million. At the risk of offending the owner, my most excellent friend Francis X. Fudrucker, the place could use some work. But many improvements have been made since he purchased it (at that same $1.050 price) in 2004, and the potential here is good. Title comes with a right of first refusal on the last owner’s house in back (she split the lot many years ago, building a new house in the rear and leaving this one on a third of an acre),so you could, eventually, reunite the two and have a compound right there on Mead, perfect for hosting Democratic Party conventions – hey, you’ll only need space for six people.


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The worst part of this hit and run story is the proof it offers that our country is doomed


Official GPD Kumbaya Chorus

Greenwich FreePress reports on the arrest, and includes this sad evidence of the final collapse of civilization, as demonstrated by our own police force. Here’s what the cops said:

The circumstances around Mr. Setterberg’s death and the arrest of the suspect may trigger the feelings of grief and Police encourage anyone who is feeling any level of unmanageable emotional stress to reach out to a mental health professional.

Dial 211 from anywhere in Connecticut and you will reach a highly trained specialist who will assess your needs and provide referrals to the resources in your community.


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Well I always liked this house, even if no one else did

5 dwight Lane

5 Dwight Lane

5 Dwight Lane, way up in the northwest corner, has sold for $2.6 million after starting at $5295 (Ogilvy) in 2013. I wrote about what turned out to be its last price cut (to $2.750) just last month, and only one other reader shared my enthusiasm for the place, so there you have it. Will someone tear down this 10,000 sq. ft. structure and build new on the 6 acres it sits on? At this price, they could afford to.

By the way, to that reader who accused me of bashing the NW corner without evidence, I’ll blame this financial disaster at least as much on the design as its inconvenient location.

Still, its sale price doesn’t lend much support to your own theory that the NW is a happening place, real estate wise.


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Pending in Old Greenwich

7 Irvine

7 Irvine Rd

7 Irvine Road, asking $4.250 million. That’s an astonishing figure, but the sellers paid $3.750 for it when it was new in 2008, and there have been other sales in the $3s on this tweet, so I guess Irvine is no longer the neighborhood of modest homes I remember from the 90s.

The listing forthrightly states that, of its 6,145 sq.ft., “4,599 is above ground, 1,540 in finished basement”, so that’s a nice touch:honesty in a listing. The source for the square footage is from the architect, which is always the most reliable source, but the town tax card shows just 3,104 sq. ft., with an additional 1,540 in its “unfinished basement”. I’m sure the architect is correct; so why is the tax assessor so far off? Makes you wonder how many other assessments are skewed.

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Riverside Contract

28 s. lake

25 S. Lake Drive

28 South Lake Drive, listed at $2.295 million. Nothing fancy; at this price, you shouldn’t expect that, but perfectly acceptable house on a great Riverside street. The only surprise to me is that it took 3 months to find a buyer.

What will it actually close at, wanna guess? I’ll say $1.875, but that really is just a guess. I don’t think it will go for less, but it could be in the $1.9s; I bet (1 ¢) it doesn’t begin with a 2.


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