Daily Archives: August 27, 2010

Profile of (maybe) the next senator from Alaska

WSJ has the story of Joe Miller, a Tea Party – supported candidate who appears to have upset Alaska’s current senator – they’re still counting absentee ballots. West Point grad, Yale Law School, Bronze Star veteran of the first Gulf war and an avid hunter. Sounds like my kind of guy.

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Kitchens – a return to inefficient space

As kitchens grow to accommodate socializing, we’re losing the efficiency that once was.


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Paul Allen sues everybody who’s anybody in computers (except Microsoft)

I’m no patent lawyer, so I don’t know o to evaluate this patent suit by Microsoft’s co-founder, Paul Allen. He’s basically claiming patent rights to just about everything on the Internet, which seems like overreaching to me, but who knows? Interesting case though.


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They’ll be back

EPA backs off banning lead bullets. Too close to mid-term elections, apparently.

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Tell us something new

Castro: Osama Bin Laden a U.S. spy. Everyone knows that, just ask Oliver Stone!

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15 Hycliff

From a reader:

I was brought to your blog when googling info on 15 Hycliff Road, and since then have been reading lots of your old posts as well as the new ones. It is really interesting!
I went to see the house yesterday.   I was feeling a bit disappointed to see the leaks everywhere… ceiling, windows, door frames.  Lots of water damage.  Roof deck has to be completely replaced, not sure how much damage to the actual roof.  Of course I am not an inspector or contractor, this is just what we observed.  The owners actually had towels placed around the house to catch drips.   There were also about forty closets, which was a little strange,
Curious what you think about the price, based on having extensive repairs needed?
I don’t mind if you comment on your blog about the information I am giving, just please don’t use my name.

It’s a land deal – forget the house. And as land, it’s well priced. I showed something similar last fall and unfortunately, the parents who would have financed the deal focused on the defects of the house when all we were considering was the land! There must have been other issues at play. But this is a beautiful piece of property and if you want to build anew, a great opportunity.


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How can someone so successful be so dumb?

The view from Jerry Dumas' house

SAC’s Stevie Cohen hosts a Republican fund-raiser at his home on Crown Lane. The linked-to article says that Steve and his pals are switching their allegiance from the Democrats to the Republicans. I understand why Wall Street might have chosen to back what they saw as the winning horse a few years ago, but …duh? I’ve recently re-read  Herman Woulk’s Winds of War and War and Remembrance and Woulk has no sympathy for Germans who claimed they had no idea what Hitler was going to do, because he’d spelled it all out in Mein Kampf.

No, I’m not equating Democrats with Nazis, but rich liberals drive me nuts – who, exactly, did they think was going to be bled to pay for all their airy-fairy do-good schemes? That they’re now squealing like pigs gives me a certain thrill of Schadenfreude. Idiots.


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Shutting down the oil well

Good behind-the-scenes look  (co-written by cousin Henry Fountain) in the NYT on the effort to shut down the blown well. One can certainly blame BP for the decisions leading up to the explosion but this story, detailing the arguments and stress during the process of solving the problem, makes the engineers look pretty good, to me. It’s a drama involving real people doing their best in a crisis. I’m not the least surprised to learn that one guy threatened to toss another into the ocean. But in the end, they brain-solved a solution. Again – BP screwed up, but the people charged with fixing that screw up (US Government and oil folks) did a pretty remarkable job under tremendous pressure.

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2002 prices in Greenwich?

15 Dialstone, RVSD

Sold for $800,000 in 2003, assessed at $800,00 (est. 70% of market value) in 2005, listed for $995,000 in 2009, sold yesterday for $787,500.

I sold 290 Riverside Avenue, new construction, for $3.8 in 2007 to a Nokia executive. Relisted at $3.249 a couple of months ago, it’s under contract today. Assessment, $3.5.


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Kurt Vonnegut

Thanks to Peg from Minnesota, here’s a link to the Harrison Bergeron story. Read the whole thing.

THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn’t think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

George and Hazel were watching television. There were tears on Hazel’s cheeks, but she’d forgotten for the moment what they were about.

On the television screen were ballerinas.

A buzzer sounded in George’s head. His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from a burglar alarm.

“That was a real pretty dance, that dance they just did,” said Hazel.

“Huh” said George.

“That dance-it was nice,” said Hazel.

“Yup,” said George. He tried to think a little about the ballerinas. They weren’t really very good-no better than anybody else would have been, anyway. They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. George was toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn’t be handicapped. But he didn’t get very far with it before another noise in his ear radio scattered his thoughts.

George winced. So did two out of the eight ballerinas.

Hazel saw him wince. Having no mental handicap herself, she had to ask George what the latest sound had been.

“Sounded like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a ball peen hammer,” said George.

“I’d think it would be real interesting, hearing all the different sounds,” said Hazel a little envious. “All the things they think up.”

“Um,” said George.

“Only, if I was Handicapper General, you know what I would do?” said Hazel. Hazel, as a matter of fact, bore a strong resemblance to the Handicapper General, a woman named Diana Moon Glampers. “If I was Diana Moon Glampers,” said Hazel, “I’d have chimes on Sunday-just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion.”

“I could think, if it was just chimes,” said George.

“Well-maybe make ’em real loud,” said Hazel. “I think I’d make a good Handicapper General.”

“Good as anybody else,” said George.

“Who knows better then I do what normal is?” said Hazel.

“Right,” said George. He began to think glimmeringly about his abnormal son who was now in jail, about Harrison, but a twenty-one-gun salute in his head stopped that.

“Boy!” said Hazel, “that was a doozy, wasn’t it?”

It was such a doozy that George was white and trembling, and tears stood on the rims of his red eyes. Two of of the eight ballerinas had collapsed to the studio floor, were holding their temples.

“All of a sudden you look so tired,” said Hazel. “Why don’t you stretch out on the sofa, so’s you can rest your handicap bag on the pillows, honeybunch.” She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag, which was padlocked around George’s neck. “Go on and rest the bag for a little while,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re not equal to me for a while.”

George weighed the bag with his hands. “I don’t mind it,” he said. “I don’t notice it any more. It’s just a part of me.”


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Blago trial’s hold-out juror speaks

I was furious with the jurors who acquitted OJ, so I have to check my admiration for this woman – maybe it’s some bias on my part – but it seems to me that she lived up to her juror’s oath in the very best way.

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Strippers vs. Fundamentalists

Ohio: Church tries to shut down strip club, strippers protest. Funny.

WARSAW, Ohio (AP) – Strippers dressed in bikinis sunbathe in lawn chairs, their backs turned toward the gray clapboard church where men in ties and women in full-length skirts flock to Sunday morning services.

The strippers, fueled by Cheetos and nicotine, are protesting a fundamentalist Christian church whose Bible-brandishing congregants have picketed the club where they work. The dancers roll up with signs carrying messages adapted from Scripture, such as “Do unto others as you would have done unto you,” to counter church members who for four years have photographed license plates of patrons and asked them if their mothers and wives know their whereabouts.

The dueling demonstrations play out in central Ohio, where nine miles of cornfields and Amish-buggy crossing signs separate The Fox Hole strip club from New Beginnings Ministries.

Club owner Tommy George met with the preacher and offered to call off his not-quite-nude crew from their three-month-long protest if the church responds in kind. But pastor Bill Dunfee believes that a higher power has tasked him with shutting down the strip club.

“As a Christian community, we cannot share territory with the devil,” Dunfee said. “Light and darkness cannot exist together, so The Fox Hole has got to go.”


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Already three years behind schedule, Boeing delays “Dreamliner” yet again

It’s already cost billions in penalties for late delivery and here we go again.


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Stuck in unsellable homes

NPR has an interesting article on families stuck with real estate they can’t sell or free themselves from. This logjam affects unemployment – people can’t move to a new job, for instance, and leads to some awful personal situations: one divorced woman interviewed says that she’d like to date again, but can she explain that she’s still living with her ex-husband?

I am encountering this situation here in Greenwich. I was hoping to show three houses this weekend, all of which I know to be deeply underwater. But their owners have all given up and disappeared – my guess is they’ve gone on vacation with the money they aren’t using to make futile mortgage payments. A fourth house has been pulled from the market because the owners “are negotiating a work out”. I wish them all success, but they’re nine months behind and I doubt they have anything in their future but foreclosure.

If  sellers can’t sell, buyers can’t buy. It’s a problem.


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Lies that liberals believe

It’s not just whacky conservatives who are confused.


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If something can’t continue, it won’t

Municipalities cutting fire service

Some are trying to wrest concessions from unions, which over the years have won generous pension plans that allow many firefighters to retire in their 40s and 50s — plans that many cities say are unaffordable. Others want to reduce minimum-staffing requirements, which often force them to resort to costly overtime to fill shifts. Others are simply cutting service.


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Binney Park Pond – time to dredge?

Bob Horton does his usual good writing job on the subject in his weekly GT column today, and I agree: time to dredge. But Bob suggests that the town install silt traps, which would stop the silting and be far cheaper to maintain, in the future, than dredging the entire pond. Great idea Bob, but check old Greenwich Time articles from the last dredging twenty (?) years ago – I swear that the town was going to do just that way back then – they boasted of it, in fact, if my memory still serves.

So what happened? Did the traps get installed or not?  If installed, why didn’t they work? Readers with better memories and knowledge than mine are invited to chime in.

UPDATE: Check out Island Surveyor’s answer to all this in the comment section


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Canada catches muslim bombers

Canadian RMP nabs three would-be bombers who’d been plotting since 2008 to produce as many as fifty bombs. Yes, yes, I know, there are many peaceful muslims blah blah blah – but these guys, one of whom is an MD came to a welcoming, neutral country and proceeded to plot to blow up its citizens. My question is, how do you distinguish between the peaceful ones and the terrorists?


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