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July 18th, 2008

Altho I don't think that's what Ellen Goodman is grousing about here:

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/07/18/self_serve_and_slave/

If there was even the slightest bit of awareness here that we've come full circle when she says things like:

"nursing care has already been outsourced to family members"

I might mind this particular screed a little less. Certainly, I am sympathetic to her complaint. I could wish she'd focused more on how not only the work but the RISKS have been off-loaded on Suckers R Us. As an inveterate DIY'er, my net reaction is, therefore, meh.

guilty pleasures, "Wake Up Call"

R. is watching music videos again while our offspring plays completely incompatible music on various toys in the living room. One of the videos was Maroon 5's "Wake up Call". I lurve Maroon 5 and have for the better part of a year now. And that video is EVIL! A pastiche of Miami Vice, GTA, Mission Impossible (complete with a teeny tiny reel to reel that blows up a 1970s sedan in an concrete canyon in LA) and I am not cool enough to recognize what all else -- towards the end, there are even a couple of woman police officers in skimpy outfits appropriate only to porno or possibly a late 70s exploitation flick.

Wow. Big grins. Don't tell me it's EVIL. I started there.

We caught up on the Daily Show last night for the previous week and thus saw Pierce Brosnan talk about paddle boarding, which caused us to go do a little looksee 'round since R. had not heard of it, and the only version _I_ knew of did not involve paddles (I mean, other than hands, in an awkward kneel forward position). We watched a little YouTube instructional video, read the Wikipedia article and now R. says there's a substantial article in USA Today.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/smallbusiness/2008-07-17-laird-hamilton-stand-up-paddle-surf_N.htm

Trendy, much?
http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/105411/Want-a-Used-%27Econobox%27;_ylt=AhSvzEacaL3WXMiWDRgUqFRO7sMF?-Better-Get-in-Line

This is a hilariously funny article, well, if you own a Prius/Fit/Yaris/Aveo/WTF and you _don't_ own something that gets mpg nominally measured in the teens. If you do own the SUV (or whatever), this is definitely cry-in-your-beer time.

The difficulty of getting any money out of selling a used SUV has been thoroughly covered by the media, as has the flying-off-the-lot for new, high mpg cars thing. But _years_ ago, I knew people shopping the used market hard for a commuter car, because they were already having trouble when the cost of gas per gallon started with a 2 and not a 4. They've got a lot more company now and guess what happens when everyone wants something with a limited supply? The price goes up.

Expectable.

We did a little checking on what people were asking for used 2007 Fit Sports, just for yucks. I asserted we could get all our (my!) money back out of it (it is also low mileage). Turns out we could probably _make_ money on it, or, as R. put it, we should have bought two. Yeah. Not. Notable: a lot of those '07 Fits are incredibly high mileage (some of them 40K and higher), which makes sense -- the people who have to drive a lot are going to be more sensitive to gas prices than the rest of us.

There's a really dumb quote in the article I referenced. "Mr. Benstock says booming prices for small used cars reflect a degree of hysteria typical of markets where demand outstrips supply."

Perhaps the author paraphrased incorrectly, but _someone_ is responsible for emitting that inanity. Given the jubilation in the press today because oil stayed below $129 another day? And given the amount of savings possible on gas if you drive a lot of miles at 30 mpg instead of 15 or 20? Maybe not so hysterical.

R. notes that if you get a huge crowd of people to price something, the average price selected will be more accurate than any of the components (this turns out not to be _precisely_ true, but it's pretty damn close to the truth; certainly, over a series of these experiments, the crowd _will_ be more accurate than any individual member. Usually. You can actually rig that, too, but never mind that now). There are more drivers than there are pundits. If the drivers are all voting one way, and the pundits are voting another way, I know which way I'm going to bet.

ETA: More from the WSJ online about gas prices. Hits all the things I keep screeching about. How conservation is a bad word. How no one wants to be Jimmy Carter with the cardigan. How we're getting less than no leadership from Washington. How conservation is the only way we're going to get quick relief. Nice quotes from the retiring Warner.

Oh, and, fwiw, advocating a return to enforced/lower speed limits and less powerful/gas guzzling cars.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121578056201145757.html?mod=yahoo_free
You may recall me raving about these lovely little charts:

http://www.vaoutcomes.org/riskcharts.php

I've been stunned and amazed at the high quality of the comments on the new NYT blog, the New Old Age. The entries aren't bad, but the comments threads are unreal. I mean, you could just bind them and publish them as a book without further editing and I'd pay $30 for the result. (Which is saying something, considering how I feel about, say, the comments threads on the Freakonomics blog.)

In any event, here's a deliciously morbid entry in the blog:

http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/08/how-many-of-you-expect-to-die/

The title is a quote to a room full of wonky people: How Many of You Expect to Die? Do you want to be old? Want it to be cancer? Chronic heart disease? Emphysema?

Everyone left: you're okay with frailty and dementia, then, right?

R.'s response: how about an accident?

To which I replied, I was _just looking at the numbers_ (see vaoutcomes link above); accidents are pretty rare by comparison. So I toddled back off to that chart and sure enough, heart disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but you can think of it as emphysema, and cancer are far and away the top three). I sat back and thought about it, and scrabbled at that chart, desperately hoping for a better choice. Stroke? *shudder* I mean, I've watched a lot of people go down over the years, most of them old (and I gotta say, dying while old definitively better all 'round than dying while young; recovering from the death of a cousin younger than me is brutally worse than mourning a grandparent in their 80s. Not that either is fun.).

What's left? Pneumonia, I say, to R., who says, "the old man's friend". Really? Yup.

When you're writing your health care directive, and trying to avoid being a dried up shell of your former self, not even aware enough to be miserable, with your offspring in pain all around you, don't just plan for a DNR. Include no-antibiotics-for-pneumonia while you're at it.

Holy cow. The wisdom of the ancients. Er, not so very. Couple hundred years ago, that phrase was coined.