Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Grow Your Brain -- Grow the Grain is the ultimate feel good website.

It's basically an evolving vocabulary quiz(multiple choice).
For each word you get right, they donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. The bowl can fill up surprisingly quickly.
If you get it right, you get a harder word. If wrong, you get an easier word.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Interest Rates Go Bipolar

Mortgage rates headed in two different directions this week, with fixed-rate instruments plunging and adjustable-rate mortgages soaring. reports that the average 30-year fixed rate fell 41 basis points from the previous week, to 5.98 percent.
The average 15-year fixed -- a popular option for refinancing -- fell 39 basis points, to 5.46 percent.
Meanwhile, adjustable-rate mortgages soared. The benchmark 5/1 ARM was up sharply for the second straight week, rising 23 basis points to 6.44 percent.

Rates have been extremely volatile in recent weeks, sometimes moving a half-percent in a single day. Overall, however, the trend has been higher.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Prices Are Not Right

So you're a reporter with the NY Times assigned to do a story on how inflation affects the average American shopper. Where would you go? Who do you talk to? To Bloomfield's Stop & Shop,of course, to interview three frustrated Bloomfielders. (Click on chart to enlarge)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Developer Led Plan to Skirt DEP Rules

The NJ Department of Community Affairs is planning an end run around new DEP environmental rules to protect waterways from rampant housing developments.

The report, obtained by The Star-Ledger, says current environmental rules are skewed against builders....But environmentalists say the advisory panel's proposals would eliminate safeguards that have kept housing sprawl in check, to some degree, for years.

DCA Commissioner Joseph Doria has called for relaxing environmental rules to build more affordable housing, but Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson is strongly opposed.
"Affordable housing must be done in an environmentally sensitive manner," Jackson said. "I have heard a lot of people complain they can't build on flood plains. They tell me it is the only land left. Building affordable housing there would be morally wrong."

The findings are from one of six subcommittees that report to DCA's Housing Policy Task Force. Doria is expected to present Corzine a final affordable housing plan during the spring.

The report suggests requiring state and local governments decide quickly when developers seek to build -- and automatically to approve projects if no decision is made within 90 days.

It calls for rewriting DEP rules to make them "flexible" and giving the state Planning Commission the power to override DEP rules and local laws. It would also prevent DEP from stopping construction within 300 feet of a waterway if the area was developed in the past, and allow sewer line construction in environmentally sensitive areas.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, charged the process of developing housing policy has been hijacked by builders. There are no environmental activists on the six subcommittees.

"The DCA is trying to take over the DEP ... and is using the state Planning Commission as a weapon to weaken environmental protection and tell towns how to grow," he said. "This is a coup by the Builders Association to take over land use. Many of the recommendations violate federal law, overturn decades of New Jersey environmental law. Many are unconstitutional."

Jackson said her DEP must have a role in future discussions.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Passing the Bark

From Bloomfield to Verona, dog parks are on the run:

Suzanne Moyers weighs in on the extended Montclair Watercooler debate:

Re: Why Brookdale Dog Park is worth fighting for

Mr. DiVincenzo has told me (and others) on numerous occasions that he "want(s) a
dog run in every county park." There are many more places the dog park could
go, such as the other (Bloomfield) side of Brookdale (I saw the perfect location
just the other day!) or even Anderson Park, which is an Essex County park. And
one neighbor, who lives on Argyle Road but IS sympathetic to the noise problem
(he can hear it from his house!), suggested to Mr. DiVincenzo that the dog park
be relocated to the new park being built on the old site of
the hospital complex in Verona.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hot Air on Global Warming On Broadway March 2-4

Leave it to Grist to shine the spot light on this Anti-Global Warming "Forum":

It's a meeting, starting Sunday, of hundreds of "scientists" and propagandists, convening to denounce the proposition that global warming is real.

It's like a gathering of the Flat Earth Society. Or, since this meeting literally is taking place on Broadway... under the aegis of the Heartland Institute, a corporate-funded outfit which, among other things, funnels "free-enterprise" propaganda to malleable state lawmakers.

Many of the organizing sponsors and speakers have financial history with big companies such as ExxonMobil. Even some of the "international" co-sponsors (such as the Alternate Solutions Institute of Pakistan) receive money from foundations that have received money from ExxonMobil.
So get ready for a celebration of hot air -- and see if they denounce Galileo while they are at it.