Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday's trackings...

I'm busy grading final exams today, so some of these will be a bit brief, but there are definitely are some things to track today...

SCENES FROM THE RECESSION, INDIANA VERSION: home prices continue to fall...
"Home prices fell in nearly nine out of every 10 U.S. cities in the first quarter of this year as first-time buyers looking for bargains dominated the market.
The National Association of Realtors said today that median sales prices of existing homes declined in 134 out of 152 metropolitan areas compared with the same period a year ago. Prices rose in the other 18 cities. The median home price in Indianapolis was down 11.8 percent, to $94,600."

OBAMA WATCH: recently, in an interview with the NY Times Magazine, the president said something that was, well, rather scary concerning care for the elderly and decisions we will have to make...
"Another subject the president discusses with the Times is the problem of end-of-life care. He tells the story of his grandmother, who got an expensive hip replacement, then died two weeks later. President Obama says he “would have paid for that hip replacement just because she’s my grandmother.” At the same time, however, he notes that “whether, sort of in the aggregate, society making those decisions to give my grandmother, or everybody else’s aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they’re terminally ill is a sustainable model, is a very difficult question.” Furthermore, he recognizes that Americans don’t want to hear that we will not provide expensive late-stage care, a la England. As the president puts it, “If somebody told me that my grandmother couldn’t have a hip replacement, and she had to lie there in misery in the waning days of her life — that would be pretty upsetting.” His answer to this question, however, is also somewhat upsetting — and not just because he calls denying care to the terminally ill “very difficult” and “upsetting,” but never “something we won’t do.” He says that “there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place.” And not only will this be difficult, he claims, but he has trouble imagining “the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that’s part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance.” It is unclear what this group will look like, but the notion of some empyrean body, developed outside the normal political channels, making health-care decisions for the country, is a notion that makes me very, very nervous."

Me, too. Do we want the government to possibly have the power, some day, to tell us that, even though we want our elderly parents to have a certain procedure done, they can't have it?

$800,000 in "stimulus" money went to re-pave a Pennsylvania airport runway that is used a whole three times per day.

Meanwhile, dead folks are getting government checks:
"Millions of Americans on Social Security are receiving $250 checks as part of the president's stimulus plan — including an Anne Arundel woman who died more than 40 years ago.
The woman's son, 83-year-old James Hagner, said he got the surprise when he checked his mailbox late last week....Social Security representatives said there is a good explanation. Of the about 52 million checks that have been mailed out, about 10,000 of those have been sent to people who are deceased. The agency blames the error on the strict mid-June deadline of mailing out all of the checks, which didn't leave officials much time to clean up all of their records."

"The 2008 Report on Terrorism of the National Terrorism Center documents not only a decline in terror attacks in Iraq, but an 18% decline in attacks worldwide, and a 30% decline in fatalities. The authors estimate that the relative pacification of Iraq accounts for only half the measured reductions. The Bush administration’s strategy of finding, harassing, and killing terrorists has doubtless played its role, making the lives of terrorists nasty, brutish, and brief. But another factor in the decline of terror is 4th Generation War — the factor that led some to hypothesize its invincibility. In 2008, 61% of the victims of terror were civilians, and a rising percentage of these were children. The same Ethernet that broadcast the grievance of the terrorists deglamorized them."
No wonder the Obama administration is copying more of the Bush administration's tactics in this war than Obama's backers care to admit...

Hey, the Dallas Mavericks last night showed a lot of fight and a lot of heart, beating the Denver Nuggets 119-117 to avoid elimination in the NBA playoffs. What a performance by Dirk Nowitzki--44 points, 13 rebounds. A lot of people undoubtedly thought the Mavs, down 3 games to none in this series going into last night, stunned by the heartbreaking loss in game 3, would just mail it in, get beat, and let the season end. But they didn't. The odds are still heavily against them, as they still trail 3-1 in the series and now have to go to Denver, where the Nuggets have yet to lose in this year's playoffs. But at least the Mavs have one more shot, and they can always know that they went down fighting...

Well, it certainly may be, as William C. Rhoden suggests, that Brett Favre is considering un-retiring...again...and playing for the Minnesota Vikings next season because that's where he always wanted to be anyway.
But I wish Favre wasn't doing this. Last year, sure, I thought it was great that he came back; I could understand that he hadn't gotten the game out of his blood, that he wanted to compete, and to me it was fun watching him play.
But now, a possible second un-retirement? It just starts to look ridiculous, and to make Favre look ridiculous. Don't do it, Brett.