1) THE SCIENCE OF DRUNK
Is walking drunk more dangerous than driving drunk? Freakonomics radio is probably going to be hearing about it, thanks to its broadcast that suggested if you only had two choices, driving drunk is the safer alternative.
“For every mile walked drunk, turns out to be eight times more dangerous than the mile driven drunk,” says Steve Levitt, an economist at the University of Chicago. “So just to put it simply, if you need to walk a mile from a party to your home, you’re eight times more likely to die doing that than if you jump behind the wheel and drive your car that same mile.”
An ER doc says there’s a big spike in drunk pedestrian deaths at New Year’s.
Here’s the segment:
On New Year’s Eve, by the way, Metro Transit is offering free service.
2) DISPATCHES FROM THE SEASON OF PEACE
This was a Christmas which seemed to have an unusually high number of tragic stories that conflicted with the meaning of the season.
Few stories are more unfair than the tragedy in north Minneapolis on Monday, when a stray bullet found a three-year-old who was hiding.
“Over this summer, everybody in news said ‘keep your kids inside,'” the boy’s mother said. “My kids stay inside. They have games. They have good systems. They got everything they wanted in that house. Just so I can keep them inside,” Mayes said. “But here it is the devil creeped inside and took my son’s life.”
In Connecticut, you’ve probably heard by now, five people were killed when a fire started because someone improperly disposed of ashes from a fireplace.
But there are other victims in stories like this, too, the Associated Press reports — the firefighters.
“After 37 and a half years, 38 years, on the job, you’re never prepared for anything like this,” acting fire Chief Antonio Conte said Tuesday. “It’s heart-breaking. I had to re-call 70 firefighters today for debriefing, and most of them broke down.”
3) THE LOOK OF WASTEFUL SPENDING
In Montreal, the city’s public works department is under fire for wasteful spending for plowing snow when there wasn’t any snow to plow, the CBC reports.
Should property taxes be based on the value of a home?
Joe Soucheray’s column in the Pioneer Press answers a letter writer who defended the notion that the more valuable your home, the more you should pay.
Somebody named John C. Hottinger wrote in a letter to the editor the other day that I should pay higher property taxes than my St. Paul neighbors with less valuable houses because the police and fire departments, in the event they are needed by me, would be protecting me against a higher loss.
Think about that for a moment. It makes absolutely no sense, but then I suspect that he is the John C. Hottinger who was a legislator, so that might explain his not being able to make any sense.
My homeowner’s insurance policy protects me against a loss, not property taxes.
This property tax tussle, first with Ed Lotterman, and then his various acolytes, would be more fun if it wasn’t so pressing. Despite the likes of Hottinger, who believes otherwise, I am capable of concern for others. It shouldn’t be needed to point that out, but people who write letters to the editor can get way with pretty much anything they want to say.
I am worried that St. Paul will become less and less hospitable to young families raising children. It’s that simple. And when those young families put themselves on the giant radar screen by having the audacity to improve their home and actually spend money in St. Paul, they will be the ones to pay increased fees to the piper.
As for the role of the fire department in my life, God bless them, but they would use the same water on my house that they use on any other house, and if I intend to be protected it is because I pay insurance premiums commensurate with the value of the property.
Here’s Mr. Hottinger’s original point:
Sorry, Mr. Soucheray, but you should be paying higher taxes than your St. Paul neighbors with less valuable houses – the protection you get from police and fire is protecting against a much higher loss for you than others. Soucheray’s ideology apparently would have everyone pay the same amount for their home insurance and property taxes – increasing everyone else’s payments so he can get his more valuable coverage for much less than he pays.
4) FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ‘WHAT DID HE SAY?’
Reader/Twitter pal David Eldred wins today’s points for sharp-eyed acquisition of nonsense in this New York Times story about mid-sized restaurants and their particular struggles in a lousy economy.
“I don’t think we’re overbuilt. I think we’re underdemolished.”
5) R.I.P., CHEETAH
Cheetah, Tarzan’s companion, is dead. He died in a Florida animal sanctuary of kidney failure. He was 80.
A conversation today on Midmorning looks at the potential drawbacks of the increasingly prominent role that social media play in our lives. Today’s Question: Do you trust information from social media any more or less than information from traditional media?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes military spending for the coming year. But it contains controversial language that seems allow indefinite detention of terrorist suspects. Congress has passed the NDAA and sent it to the White House for the president’s signature. Should he sign it?
Second hour: The current status of social media.
Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Three award-winning teachers, Ryan Vernosh, Joyce Baumann and Peter Redman share their ideas about teaching and learning.
Second hour: TBA
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: With the caucuses right around the corner, Iowa still looks wide open. Romney and Bachmann are back on the air across the state, and from Clarinda to Decorah, candidates jump off their buses at pizza joints and coffee houses to connect with just a few more voters. The political junkie and host Neal Conan are in Des Moines.
Second hour: Kids and agricultural work.