Sneaking Suspicions
Archives--February 1-29, 2008

This page includes posts from February 1-29, 2008 in the usual reverse order.

Each posting on the home page is perma-linked to these archive pages.

February 27, 2008
Three Claudes for hiding behind an attribution

Sometimes headline writers try to disguise the banality of their work with the magic of attribution.

There's a good example today in the News-Journal, leading a story about a police raid on an upstate suburban home that was allegedly the scene for high-dollar poker games, complete with barely clad ladies:

High stakes, nudity were draws for gamblers, police say

And I thought it all about the camaraderie and good sportsmanship.

The other good thing about this story is that it helps fight against that old stereotype of boring suburban living--not on that little cul-de-sac, at least.

John Cheever would have been delighted.

The headline earns three Claudes, and would have earned more without the lame attribution.

February 13, 2008
Grace under falling pressure

Nobody likes to lose, but under many social situations, the loser is nonetheless expected to congratulate the winner.

The gesture may be completely insincere, and often is, but it's still expected.

For example, not long ago a legendary curmudgeon, New England Patriots coach Bill Bellichek, managed somehow to shake Giants coach Tom Coughlin's hand in the final seconds of this year's Super Bowl.

Peggy Noonan wondered recently whether Senator Clinton would show the capacity to lose gracefully in the ongoing presidential race. The former speechwriter suggested that skill might not be in the Senator's personality profile:

[S]he does grace the way George W. Bush does nuance.

With a string of primary and caucus victories favoring Senator Obama, including yesterday's sizeable wins in Maryland, Virginia, and DC, there was a fresh opportunity to see if Noonan's assessment was on the money.

It looks like she called it correctly:

For the second election night in a row, Hillary Clinton failed to acknowledge or congratulate Barack Obama after he won the day in dominating fashion.

On Tuesday in El Paso, hours after Virginia had been called for Obama, she ... mention[ed] Obama by name, only to chide his health care plan. ***

Clinton congratulated Obama and John Edwards after their first and second place finishes in the Iowa caucuses. Obama returned the favor in New Hampshire, saying Clinton “did an outstanding job.” That courtesy continued through the early states.

But as the race has shifted to a delegate chase with dozens of states in play around the country, the notion of congratulating one’s opponent seems, for Clinton, to have fallen by the wayside.

If you can't show as much grace while losing than Bill Bellichek, that's not good.

Hat tip:

February 11, 2008
Shameless promotion

This weekend I posted my newest golf book review.

Club Life: The Games Golfers Play is a witty collection of John Steinbreder's columns for Golfweek Magazine.

You might also enjoy this week's column about the kinds of wintertime renovation projects that golf course superintendents tackle, when the grass isn't growing and the members aren't in their way.

For example, they do things like this:


February 6, 2008
Just a little twisted emphasis on status

Charles Hill recently made a brief comment about the lack of BMWs in his company’s parking lot:

We don't have a lot of high-zoot vehicles where I work...; mostly it's trucks and sport-utilities. Then again, damn few of us are overpaid.

He linked to a piece by Andrew Dederer about the fact that the owners of BMW cars in the 3 or 5 series are in a different demographic, with a distinct attitude about the signaling effect of their choice of transportation:

No car is more identified with a particular rung of the corporate ladder than BMW. Nothing says “mover and shaker” more than an alphabet soup 3 or 5 in a reserved parking place. We’re not talking about the top slot; the truly highly-placed drive something with more presence. BMW is the ne plus ultra for upper middle execs, corporate clones whose cars must stand out from the “ordinary” (cynics might say “practical”) machines driven by the company’s lesser lights.

Overpaying is part of the cachet, “I’m going places, and I don’t need to worry about what it cost.”

For at least one new Federal criminal defendant in Delaware, that last comment was right on the money, as it were:

Anthony J. Lofink admitted in federal court Tuesday that he and four associates stole more than $1.2 million of state money, which federal prosecutors say paid for cosmetic surgery, expensive cars, clothing, jewelry and start-up money for a tanning business.

In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas McCann said that between May 2005 and October 2007, Lofink used the money to lease a BMW 330i, purchase a Porsche Cayman and get $3,800 worth of cosmetic surgery.


Lofink, who made about $31,000 a year as a state accounting specialist, also was in the process of using the stolen money to open up a tanning and day spa franchise with one of his co-defendants, according to McCann.

Lofink is to cooperate with the authorities in the upcoming criminal court proceedings against the others involved with the scheme, in which he caused escheat funds to be sent to dummy entities, with the criminal proceeds shared with his buddies in crime.

This is the same infuriating case I wrote about last November, and the story is worse than previously expected:

Prosecutors said Lofink took advantage of an apparently lax system where he was responsible for both processing claims and issuing checks.

Once Lofink processed a claim, two levels of supervisors were supposed to verify its legitimacy. But McCann said in court that Lofink's supervisors "trusted him" and only did a cursory review of the paperwork.

Connolly said Lofink also had the computer password for one of his supervisors and used it at times to verify the fake claims he was putting through. The supervisor's password was the word "password."


February 4, 2008
T'weren't foolin'

I recently posted a short note complaining about a proposed downzoning of the Rehoboth Elementary School property by the City of Rehoboth Beach, and suggested I was going to do something about it.

I wasn't kidding around.

Here's a recent story about the controversy, as it ran in The Cape Gazette:

A new bill has been proposed in the Legislature that would restrict rezoning of school district properties and protect school property values statewide.

The bill states that if a municipality amends its zoning code or changes property uses in a way that reduces the value of public school-controlled land, the municipality must repay the difference in value to the state and the school district. The repayment value will be determined based on the property’s fair market value, calculated as if the property were vacant and available for full development.

I appreciate the support that Senator Bunting and Representative Schwartzkopf are providing by their sponsorship of this legislation.

The bill goes beyond this single dispute, because I think that it is possible that county governments and municipalities other than Rehoboth Beach may one day be similarly tempted to create new open space without actually paying for it.

Once the bill is assigned to a committee, it will be available online. I'll provide a link to it when that happens.

UPDATE: It's Senate Bill No. 206, and assigned to the Executive Committee.


Contact Information:

Fritz Schranck
P.O. Box 88
Nassau, DE  19969

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© Frederick H. Schranck 2002-2008