Monday, November 02, 2009

Worst Parking Job Ever.

Details here.


How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.


Cause you never know when you might need this sort of information.

Step 1

Remove the casing of the bomb. This may sound difficult, but you can be very rough with the bomb in order to remove the outer casing. Atomic bombs are designed to withstand heavy damage without detonating. Once you can observe the inner workings of the bomb, you are on your way to being able to dismantle an atomic bomb.

More here.

Babel.

Even with good instruction, it is fiendishly difficult to learn any new language well, at least after about the age of 15. While vilified in certain quarters as threatening the future of the English language in America, most immigrants who actually try to improve their English skills here in the United States find that they have trouble communicating effectively even with doctors or their children’s schoolteachers.

Yet the going idea among linguists and anthropologists is that we must keep as many languages alive as possible, and that the death of each one is another step on a treadmill toward humankind’s cultural oblivion. This accounted for the melancholy tone, for example, of the obituaries for the Eyak language of southern Alaska last year when its last speaker died.

That death did mean, to be sure, that no one will again use the word demexch, which refers to a soft spot in the ice where it is good to fish. Never again will we hear the word 'ał for an evergreen branch, a word whose final sound is a whistling past the sides of the tongue that sounds like wind passing through just such a branch. And behind this small death is a larger context. Linguistic death is proceeding more rapidly even than species attrition. According to one estimate, a hundred years from now the 6,000 languages in use today will likely dwindle to 600. The question, though, is whether this is a problem.

More.

For those of you who think Obama's deficits don't matter:

The Tax Foundation has run the numbers to see what the tax rates would have to be to eliminate the deficit (not pay off any of the national debt mind you, this would just be not going any further into the hole). It's grim:


Using the Tax Foundation’s Microsimulation Model, we can project how much revenue a
broad-based increase in federal income tax rates would generate. However, when the rates
necessary are spelled out, it becomes apparent that deficits this large simply cannot be closed
with higher federal income tax rates. This year and for several years to come, even if
congressmen were willing to present the full bill to the taxpayers in the form of higher taxes
to match their spending level, they could not do so.

It's your money. Read the whole thing.

The Golden State isn't worth it.

Today's public benefits fail that test, as urban scholar Joel Kotkin of NewGeography.com and Chapman University told the Los Angeles Times in March: "Twenty years ago, you could go to Texas, where they had very low taxes, and you would see the difference between there and California. Today, you go to Texas, the roads are no worse, the public schools are not great but are better than or equal to ours, and their universities are good. The bargain between California's government and the middle class is constantly being renegotiated to the disadvantage of the middle class."

These judgments are not based on drive-by sociology. According to a report issued earlier this year by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., Texas students "are, on average, one to two years of learning ahead of California students of the same age," even though per-pupil expenditures on public school students are 12% higher in California. The details of the Census Bureau data show that Texas not only spends its citizens' dollars more effectively than California but emphasizes priorities that are more broadly beneficial. Per capita spending on transportation was 5.9% lower in California, and highway expenditures in particular were 9.5% lower, a discovery both plausible and infuriating to any Los Angeles commuter losing the will to live while sitting in yet another freeway traffic jam.

In what respects, then, does California "excel"? California's state and local government employees were the best compensated in America, according to the Census Bureau data for 2006. And the latest posting on the website of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility shows 9,223 former civil servants and educators receiving pensions worth more than $100,000 a year from California's public retirement funds. The "dues" paid by taxpayers in order to belong to Club California purchase benefits that, increasingly, are enjoyed by the staff instead of the members.


More.