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Dull and Duller GOP Candidates, Pink Toenails, Bright Futures Dim, The Beatles at Shea: The Live Wire

| April 25, 2011

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Existing Home Sales Rise

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From GoToby: “Florida’s existing home and existing condo sales rose in March, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Existing home sales increased 12 percent last month with a total of 18,522 homes sold statewide compared to 16,540 homes sold in March 2010, according to Florida Realtors. Statewide sales of existing condos last month rose 24 percent compared to the year-ago sales figure. Seventeen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported higher existing home and existing condo sales in March; 17 MSAs also had higher condo sales. It’s the fourth consecutive month that Florida Realtors has reported higher year-over-year existing home and existing condo sales statewide. […] Florida’s median sales price for existing homes last month was $126,300 ($121,390 in Flagler County); a year ago, it was $136,000 ($126,000 in Flagler County) for a 7 percent decrease. Analysts with the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) note that sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in February 2011 was $157,000, down 4.2 percent from a year ago, according to NAR.In California, the statewide median resales price was $271,320 in February; in Massachusetts, it was $270,000; in New York, it was $245,000; and in Maryland, it was $208,258.” The full post.

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GOP Candidates Poll: Dull and Duller

From the Times: “While it may not be unusual for voters’ attention to be focused elsewhere at this stage of a campaign, the survey at the very least provides a reality check for a race that has received frenetic coverage at times on cable news and the Internet even though nearly 60 percent of Republicans cannot point to a single candidate about whom they are enthusiastic, according to the Times/CBS poll. […] While it may not be unusual for voters’ attention to be focused elsewhere at this stage of a campaign, the survey at the very least provides a reality check for a race that has received frenetic coverage at times on cable news and the Internet even though nearly 60 percent of Republicans cannot point to a single candidate about whom they are enthusiastic, according to the Times/CBS poll.” The full story.

Click on the image for larger view.

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Pink Toenails and Boys

From the Business Ethics Blog: “Clothing chain J. Crew’s latest catalog includes a picture of president and creative director Jenna Lyons painting her young son’s toenails pink. Yes, pink — the colour most closely associated, in North American culture, at least, with traditional femininity. Criticism ensued, alleging that J. Crew was acting (intentionally!) to promote a gender-bending agenda. The calibre and cogency of the arguments in favour of that conclusion is about what you’d expect. The main critic, Fox commentator and psychiatrist Dr Keith Ablow, provides an object lesson in how to cram as many argumentative fallacies as possible into a single piece of writing, in his oddly-titled editorial, “J. Crew Plants the Seeds for Gender Identity”. (I’ve blogged about the significance of logical fallacies before, here.) Among the good doctor’s fallacious arguments: He alleges, without substantiation, that pink-toenail-painting is highly likely to result in gender confusion. In the absence of supporting evidence, we are expected to believe him because he’s got “Dr” in front of his name — essentially a form of illicit appeal to authority. He also engages in straw man argumentation (in which a critic attacks something his opponent never said nor implied), by suggesting that, via this ad, “our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity” [my emphasis]. He also begs the question by assuming that pink is just for girls (and I’m wearing pink as I write this, by the way). He also has an unfortunate tendency to resort to rhetorical questions: “If you have no problem with the J. Crew ad, how about one in which a little boy models a sundress? What could possibly be the problem with that?” (What if my answer is “nothing”? Ablow provides nothing to help me, then.) [These critics] believe that businesses have an obligation to pursue certain social agendas. They merely disagree over what that agenda should be. For Ablow and Brown, the social obligation of business is to defend & promote good ol’-fashioned American values, including apparently carefully scripted gender roles. For critics of capitalism, the social obligation of business is to promote social justice, environmental values, gender equality, and so on. In either case, those who urge businesses to adopt social missions — as opposed to merely making and selling stuff that people want to buy, within the bounds of law and ethics — ought to be careful what they wish for. Because if and when businesses do take up social agendas, they may not be the agendas that those advocates prefer.” The full post.

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No Recovery for Homebuilders

© Calculated Risk graphic. Click on the image for larger view.

From The Times: “The recession hurt a lot of industries, but it knocked the residential construction market to the mat and has kept it there, even as the broader economy has started to fitfully recover. Sales of new single-family homes in February were down more than 80 percent from the 2005 peak, far exceeding the 28 percent drop in existing home sales. New single-family sales are now lower than at any point since the data was first collected in 1963, when the nation had 120 million fewer residents. Builders and analysts say a long-term shift in behavior seems to be under way. Instead of wanting the biggest and the newest, even if it requires a long commute, buyers now demand something smaller, cheaper and, thanks to $4-a-gallon gas, as close to their jobs as possible. That often means buying a home out of foreclosure from a bank. Four out of 10 sales of existing homes are foreclosures or otherwise distressed properties. […] Bill McBride, who runs the popular financial blog Calculated Risk, said this might be the moment when people decisively started to turn on home ownership. “I’m starting to feel the hate,” he wrote.” The full article.

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Palm Coast Molestation case of 9 Year Old Is Reopened

Kristin Helmlinger of Palm Coast filed a police report on Aug. 8, 2010, charging that her 9-year-old daughter had been molested by a teenage boy who was known to the family and lived nearby. Helmlinger’s daughter suffers from a speech disability that would prevent her from testifying in court. She was interviewed by child protective services but gave conflicting reports of the alleged incident. So the State Attorney’s Offfice closed the investigation. Last week, it reopened it, based in part on a witness’ statement that was part of the police statement. Quoted in the News-Journal, that report read: “”I noticed a young man two doors down from me and a little girl, blonde 3-foot to 4-foot tall behind the houses between the fence and the concrete barriers on Belle Terre. The young man was lifting up the girl’s skirt and putting his hands in places that he should not have been putting them. He was also trying to bite her on the (rear end).” The News-Journal’s Julie Murphy wrote: “The girl said ‘no’ to questions about whether anyone ever touched or did anything to her ‘private part’ but told the investigator the boy wanted to see her privates and she said ‘yes’ to the question of whether ‘he did something’ to her. She also answered ‘yes’ that it happened five times. She answered “no” to questions about whether she was ‘okay with him doing this to her.'”

Voting Rights Retreat in Florida

Howard Troxler in the St. Pete Times: “Having solved all other problems, the Florida Legislature now turns to the most dangerous threat of all …


No kidding. The 2011 Legislature is considering, and its committees have approved so far, bills that would:

• Cut Florida’s early-voting period (nearly one out of five ballots were cast early in 2010) from two weeks to one.

• Bar anyone who has moved or changed a name, such as newly married women, from updating their information at the polls on Election Day and receiving a regular ballot. They would have to cast “provisional” ballots instead.

• Crack down on, and expand penalties for, groups that try to register new voters — which used to be considered an all-American activity.

• Make it even harder for citizens to change the Florida Constitution by setting an earlier expiration date for petition signatures.

“[…] And who is most likely to be barred from casting a regular ballot? Who moves more? College students, young people. Who is most likely to change a name? Women. The stereotype, with justification, is that they lean Democratic. […] Good grief. We can’t even figure out in Florida if we want to keep track of pill mills dishing out oxycodone. But as for the subversive practice of registering voters — whoa, Nellie! Every group would have to register and file reports; every person doing such a thing would have to fill out forms and be in the state’s files. They would have exactly 48 hours to turn in each form after a voter signs it — or else face financial penalties on a per-signature basis.” The full column.

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Bright Futures To Be Cut

From the Associated Press: “Cuts to the merit-based scholarship program would come as the Legislature is also raising tuition at public colleges and universities. […] A House-passed budget would cut Bright Futures by 15 percent — anywhere from $330 to $480 annually depending on the type of award. The Senate version would slash everyone by $960. […] The Bright Futures scholarship program, funded by Lottery proceeds, was launched in 1997 to stem a “brain drain” of top Florida students to out-of-state colleges. Students could qualify for grants paying 100 percent or 75 percent of tuition and fees at in-state public and private schools depending largely on how well they scored on entrance exams. Due to prior cutbacks the average scholarship now covers just 52 percent of tuition and fees, according to state financial aid records. That’s down from 73 percent in 2006-07. […] Lottery proceeds have not kept pace with that growth, so the Legislature two years ago capped the scholarships at 2008-09 levels although tuition has increased since then. Lawmakers last year also agreed to phase in higher minimum requirements for Bright Futures through 2013-14 and cut all awards by $1 per credit hour, or $30 a year. The House budget bill this year also would accelerate implementation of the new requirements, which would reduce the number of incoming freshmen receiving scholarships this fall.” The full article.

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The Beatles at Shea Stadium, 1965

One of the few times going to Shea Stadium was worth the ride. Here’s how, condescendingly, the New York Times described the event, which took place on Aug. 15, 1965: “Beatles fans, more than 55,000 of them, the largest collection ever seen and heard in one place, were in magnificent and terrifying voice last night at Shea Stadium. Their immature lungs produced a sound so staggering, so massive, so shrill and sustained that it quickly crossed the line from enthusiasm into hysteria and was soon in the area of the classic Greek meaning of the word pandemonium–the region of all demons. The sound was accompanied by weeping, stamping, leaping, weaving–and in dozens of cases, fainting–by adolescent girls. At the very end of the program dozens of girls, faint and hysterical, were carried from the stands to a first-aid dressing room set up on the stadium’s ground level. Several of the fans in the first row of the grandstands moaned, wept and called to the special police on the field: ‘Please, please. Give us some blades of the grass. They walked on the grass.'” A passing policewoman observed: ‘They are psychos. Their mothers ought to see them now.'” The sell-out crowd netted the concert organizers $304,000, of which $160,000 went to The Beatles. The entire thing lasted all of 30 minutes. Here it all is:

The Beatles Live At Shea Stadium by My_Beatles_Stuff

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7,000 Turn Up at Wings Over Flagler

Strong attendance at Wings Over Flagler 2011. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

From a Flagler County news release: “[A]ccording to the ticket count some 7,000 people attended Flagler County’s Wings Over Flagler Fly-In on March 26 and 27. “We had more people attend the event on Saturday than attended the event both days last year,” Roy Sieger, the airport director, said. “We are definitely looking forward to another event next year on March 24 and 25.” Next year’s date has the added advantage of not conflicting with the annual Cracker Day event traditionally scheduled on the last Saturday in March each year. In 2012 the last Saturday in March is also the last day in the month on March 31. Plans for next year include dedicating the event to William E. “Wild Bill” Walker who died of injuries when he crashed performing an aerobatics demonstration at this year’s event. Walker 58 was from Cookeville, Tenn. and a member of the Red Thunder Air Show Team. Walker’s family plans to attend next year’s event in Flagler. Sieger is already adding to the repertoire of historic planes for the event next year. Recently he was visited by an old friend Tim Chopp. Chopp landed at the Flagler County Airport with what could best be described as a flying museum. The plane is a C-54 propeller driven aircraft with four motors that was used extensively in the Berlin Airlift. The plane, called the Spirit of Freedom is outfitted inside with memorabilia and historical information on the Berlin Airlift. The Airlift is called one of the greatest humanitarian/aviation event in history. In 1948 after World War II Russia was in control of East Germany and blockaded the City of Berlin. For a year planes such as the Spirit of Freedom flew in supplies in a massive airlift that kept the city supplied with food and other necessities. The mission of the Berlin Airlift Foundation, which purchased and restored the Spirit of Freedom in 1988, is to preserve the memory of the airlift by preserving aircraft used in the great event. The idea was to create “Flying Memorials and Classrooms” with the purpose of educating the public. Chopp and his co-pilot David Brightwell flew the Spirit of Freedom to Flagler from air shows in Puerto Rico. The crew’s home base is Toms River, New Jersey. Sieger said details are being worked out to bring the Spirit of Freedom to the Wings Over Flagler Fly-in in 2012.”

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Vegetarian Oral Sex

The folks at OkTrends, by way of OkCupid, “the biggest dating site in the U.S.,” have created 10 charts about sex, including this teaser, comparing vegetarians and carnivores, on “Odds Someone Enjoys Giving Oral Sex,” based on 256,370 site users:

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Flagler County Sheriff Don Fleming’s Videos

The Flagler County Sheriff has redesigned its website. It’s slightly less clunky than it used to be: easier to get around, easier to search through the inmate database, for example, though it remains selective in what makes available, and timely, it is not. Last week the sheriff’s office announced a new feature: weekly sheriff’s videos. “This new feature will allow me to keep our community informed on significant events affecting the agency as well as offering crime prevention tips to keep our citizens informed,” Fleming said in a news release. The videos are produced in-house, at no immediate cost. The weekly messages will center on updates on the website and a brief explanation on programs offered through the Sheriff’s Office. The opener from the newlywed (Fleming, a widower for several years, was just remarried last month) is not quite earth-shattering:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

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A Few Good Links

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1 Response for “Dull and Duller GOP Candidates, Pink Toenails, Bright Futures Dim, The Beatles at Shea: The Live Wire”

  1. Liana G says:

    I am expecting the GOP to bring out Rubio as their Obama — Latino, attractive, young, hip — and recoup the Latino voters they have been so hell bent on alienating.

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