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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Map of state purchasing power: you can buy 40% more in Mississippi than in DC with same $$

Tax Institute:
Regional price differences are strikingly large, and have serious policy implications. The same amount of dollars are worth almost 40 percent more in Mississippi than in DC, and the differences become even larger if metro area prices are considered instead of statewide averages.
This tax map shows the real value of $100 in each state. Because average prices for similar goods are much higher in California or New York than in Mississippi or South Dakota, the same amount of dollars will buy you comparatively less in the high-price states, or comparatively more in low-price states. Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, here's the adjusted value of $100, reflecting how prices are different in each state.

For example, Tennessee is a low-price state, where $100 will buy what would cost $110.25 in another state that is closer to the national average. You can think of this as meaning that Tennesseans are about ten percent richer than their nominal incomes suggest.

Adjusting for prices reveals average real incomes in Kansas to be higher than in New York, despite New York having much higher incomes as measured in dollars.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

787th anniversary of the death of Genghis Khan: founder of Mongolian Empire, prolific spreader of DNA, and climate change hero

Roused by the lash of his own stubborn tail
Our lion will now foreign foes assail.
~John Dryden (Astraea Redux)

Heaven has abandoned China owing to its haughtiness and extravagant luxury. But I, living in the northern wilderness, have not inordinate passions. I hate luxury and exercise moderation. I have only one coat and one food. I eat the same food and am dressed in the same tatters as my humble herdsmen. I consider the people my children*, and take an interest in talented men as if they were my brothers. We always agree in our principles, and we are always united by mutual affection. At military exercises I am always in front, and in time of battle am never behind. In the space of seven years, I have succeeded in accomplishing a great work, and uniting the whole world in one empire. 

The greatest pleasure is to vanquish your enemies and chase them before you,
to rob them of their wealth and see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses, and clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.**

John Wayne as Genghis
One arrow alone can be easily broken, but many arrows are indestructible. 
~Genghis Khan (variously attributed) 

Today is the 787th anniversary of the death of Genghis Khan (wiki) (ca. 1162-1227), the founder and emperor of the Mongol Empire, the largest contiguous empire in history. Born in the Khenti Mountains of modern-day Mongolia, Genghis rose to power amid a grouping of warring tribes in northwest Asia and eventually united them into a powerful nomadic army that conquered most of the Chin empire of northern China (1213-15). Subsequently, from 1218 through 1224, he subjugated Turkistan, Transoxonia, and Afghanistan and raided Persia and eastern Europe. (For a generation after his death, his sons and grandsons pushed the Empire even farther, but ultimately, it fractured into several khanates and faded away.) Genghis Khan was one of history's most inspired - and ruthless - military leaders, yet he is buried in an unmarked grave at some unknown location. At one point in his ascendency he is said to have remarked, 

"Conquering the world on horseback is easy: it is dismounting and governing that is hard."

Conan, not Ghengis
**This is the origin of the similar line in Conan the Barbarian (musical version here): when Conan is asked what is best in life, he responds. "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."

*Many of the people, as it turns out, were his children. Here is an interesting article about the latter-day demographics that resulted from the Mongol conquest:
Genghis Khan, the fearsome Mongolian warrior of the 13th century, may have done more than rule the largest empire in the world; according to a recently published genetic study, he may have helped populate it too.
An international group of geneticists studying Y-chromosome data have found that nearly 8 percent of the men living in the region of the former Mongol empire carry y-chromosomes that are nearly identical. That translates to 0.5 percent of the male population in the world, or roughly 16 million descendants living today.
Mother Nature Network considers him a climate change hero, based on the fact that he killed lots of people (and people are a scourge upon the earth):
"Over the course of the century and a half run of the Mongol Empire, about 22 percent of the world's total land area had been conquered and an estimated 40 million people were slaughtered by the horse-driven, bow-wielding hordes. Depopulation over such a large swathe of land meant that countless numbers of cultivated fields eventually returned to forests."
Not sure why they left out Stalin and Mao.

This map from Wikipedia shows the growth of the Mongol Empire:

Adapted from Ed's Quotation Of The Day, only available via email. If you'd like to be added to his list, leave your email address in the comments.

Monday links

10 Of The Creepiest Things Superheroes Have Done. Related: This Video Of Things Superheroes Do That’d Be Creepy If You Did Them.

5 delightful science experiments from 100 years ago.

Top 20 Technological Screw-Ups Of the 20th Century.

Ridiculous Japanese Products.

Incredibly Intricate Hand-Cut Paper Art.

One of the Most Famous Paintings in the White House Has a Huge Spelling Error.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, including the guy who would become King Louis XX of France if the monarchy were restored, 10 things dogs hate about humans, and how the frequency of childhood diarrhea affects adult mate choice.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ridiculous Japanese Products

I've seen a few of these before, but not all, and they're pretty funny.

How much time have you wasted clipping one toenail at a time? You'll never get those minutes of your life back. But you don't have to waste any more.

Wash While You Walk: Now you can take your laundry on the go.

Allergies?  Tired of running out of paper products when you need to blow your nose?

These are stickers to wear on your eyelids when you want to sleep at work.

So, how about a vending machine full of used women's underwear?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday links

Picking Your Soulmate and Picking the Cleanest Toilet at a Public Event in the Fewest Tries Have The Same Optimal Solution

If the French monarchy were restored, this guy would become King Louis XX of France.

The never-ending conundrums of 19th century classical physics brainteasers.

During WWI, the War Department sent American artists to Europe. The Smithsonian recently digitized this artwork from the front lines, which has gone largely unseen for decades. 

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here and include lots of Schrödinger's cat stuff, the science of spiders on drugs, and medieval knights vs modern troops.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Smartphone app: scan barcodes in grocery store, find out what political party the company/employees support

I'm not sure I want this information, but it's now easily available. Is your grocery bill supporting your political opponents? Now you can avoid it.

Via WaPo: Bet the last time you were sipping Campbell’s soup or popping Pringles chips it never occurred to you that your eating habits could be political.

But every product has a parent company and most major corporations make political contributions. Are you a staunch Republican who would never pull the Democratic lever? Chances are some of your purchases at the grocery store go toward helping a Democratic candidate. Diehard Democrat? Ditto for you.

Never make that mistake again!

Enter Matthew Colbert, a former campaign and Hill staffer, who has built a new app for smartphones that allows users to scan the barcode of products in the grocery store and immediately find out what political party the company and its employees support.

Colbert told the Loop he developed the “BuyPartisan” app to give consumers more knowledge about how they spend their money. For some, it may translate to not buying a certain cereal anymore, for others it could simply be a conversation starter, Colbert said. But he hopes all users will appreciate having at their fingertips an awareness that a fraction of their grocery bill went to political contributions.

The app, based on data from Center for Responsive Politics, the Sunlight Foundation and the Institute for State Money in Politics, is the first rollout from Colbert’s new company, “Spend consciously.” It’s tagline: “Wouldn’t it be great if you could spend how you believed?”

The goal of the company, he said, is make “every day Election Day” through “spending choices.”

Colorado Hiker Sings Opera, Fends Off Mountain Lion Attack

Read the whole thing.  Excerpts:

Kopestonsy tried to loose the mountain lion, but the animal stalked her for half an hour.

"I would back up and it would creep forward, so I'd stop. Eventually it sort of crouched down, like part way," Kopestonsky said. "So, I start backing up down the mountain, which was really steep. And then it got up and walked toward me. At the closest point, it was eight feet away."

Finally, she decided to try something different.

"I don't know why, I just started singing opera really loud," Koestonsky said. "It kind of put its ears down and just kept looking at me, and it sort of backed away. Then, it came around the bushes an came towards me again and crouched about 10 feet away."

During the ordeal Kopestonsky had the presence of mind to call her housemate, who alerted the San Miguel County Sheriff's about the situation.

Saudi man dies after being kicked in the face by the donkey he was (allegedly) trying to sodomize

The jokes just write themselves.

Via Opposing Views: The bizarre story of a man who died after trying to have sex with a donkey is circulating all over Middle Eastern news sites.

Lebanese website Beiruting recently reported that a Saudi Sheikh man died after attempting to sodomize a donkey. But other sites have picked it up as well. Reports say that the man tied the donkey to his car, took off his pants and attempted the have sex with the animal.

The donkey, however, was not about to let that happen, and allegedly, it proceeded to kick the Sheikh man in the face following by three strong kicks to the chest. The man fell to the ground and allegedly suffered for some time before dying next to the angry animal.

When police arrived, they reportedly discovered the man’s body and were able to determine what had happened.

It’s impossible to confirm this story's accuracy and it sounds really out there, but it’s starting to pick up steam online. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.