NPR's Planet Money explains the history of the sales tax in the United States by tracing what kinds of sandwiches get taxed and why: How the Burrito Became a Sandwich. Bonus: In-N-Out Burger history in the podcast.
Thomas Scully, the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President George W. Bush, once said, “Fifty percent of the social safety net was created by Henry Waxman when no one was looking.” After 40 years and 17 consecutive terms, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is retiring from Congress. [more inside]
Dan Grover and Mike Belfrage have mapped transit inequality in the Bay Area after reading a New Yorker piece on the New York City subway (previously). The ways in which a widening income gap are changing the demography of San Francisco have been widely reported of late (previously, previously). The project's code is available if you'd like to try mapping your own city.
A former magazine writer in his late fifties moves to San Diego and lives on very little money indeed. In the October 1977 issue of The Atlantic, he describes the stratagems behind his thriftiness. [more inside]
Lookout Mountain Laboratories (Hollywood, CA) was originally built in 1941 as an air defense station. But after WWII, the US Air Force repurposed it into a secret film studio which operated for 22 years during the Cold War. The studio produced classified movies for all branches of the US Armed Forces, as well as the Atomic Energy Commission, until it was deactivated in 1969. During this time, cameramen, who referred to themselves as "atomic" cinematographers, were hired to shoot footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the South Pacific. Some of their films have been declassified and can be seen here. [more inside]
In Our Own Backyard: Resisting Nazi Propaganda In Southern California 1933 - 1945, a digital exhibition from the Oviatt Library at Cal State Northridge. "The Nazi Propaganda period, 1933 to 1945, chronicles a crucial twelve years in American history. This exhibit's story about the local threat to American ideals demonstrates how European events reached across the ocean and affected people in Southern California -- in our own backyard." Magazines, pamphlets, newspapers, stickers and more. [more inside]
The US Clean Air Act makes it illegal to sell highly environmentally-friendly cars in 42 states. Apparently.
California = France? Norwegian bløgger Carl Størmer (via THE BIG PICTURE) made a U.S. map substituting the state names for other countries of equivalent GDP. Some of the substitutions are funny: Illinois = Mexico? Texas = Canada? New Jersey = Russia? Hawaii = Nigeria? Oregon = Israel? But your economic mileage will vary: apparently California no longer has the "sixth-largest economy in the world", no matter what The Governator says. Wikipedia chimes in, while some Californians don't want to be bothered with facts.
22 year old schizophrenic Farrah Russell was rebuilding her life. But when the plug was pulled on the state program that allowed her to subsist, she took her life. Her heartbreaking story is a cautionary tale of the dark consequences of state budget cuts. While politicians argue over tax stimulus proposals that benefit the wealthy, while wild numbers are applied to war budgets, the States have been forced to cut social programs in order to survive. Whether it's California teachers, Connecticut and New York residents dreading tax hikes, Pennsylvania public transportation, or Texas prescription drug coverage for the poor, the States, supposedly United, have been left out to dry. While the States have been forced to cut their programs, groping for survival, Washington remains silent in its mission. It does not remember history. Why do we turn a blind eye to the hidden costs? What can be done about this? And how do we make it stop?
Apparently I live in the most diverse city in the United States. Synagogue arsons, propane-tank-bomb-plotting and suburban hate crime aside, Sacramento is a pretty neat place, especially since my wife (Korean-American) and I (Jewish) can afford to own a house on our meager incomes and still go out to eat Pho (Vietnamese), Kitfo (Ethiopian), Som Tum (Thai), Kalbi (Korean) all within a short drive. It's not San Francisco, but neither is the cost of living. Do you notice the tension caused by resistance to diversity in your town, or are you too busy eating the sushi to notice?