Things I learned from reading this week:
From The Economist
According to a report from the Congressional Research Service, there were 294 million guns in the country in 2007, up from 192 million in 1994. More guns might be expected to mean more influence for the N.R.A., except that the number of households with guns has actually declined fairly consistently since 1973. The people who buy guns, it seems, are usually those who already own them.
From The New York Times
Plato was an athlete, particularly skilled as a wrestler. His given name was Aristocles, after his grandfather, but the coach under whom he trained is said to have called him “Plato” — from the Greek for broad, platon, on account of his broad-shouldered frame. It stuck.
From The Atlantic
State tax codes have a way of accumulating junk -- quirky breaks and carve-outs that grow increasingly odd as they linger on the books, like tacky old legislative souvenirs. In Alabama, you can still deduct $1,000 for building a radioactive fallout shelter. In Arkansas, blind combat veterans may buy a new car every two years tax free. In Hawaii, residents can claim a $3,000 deduction for taking care of "exceptional trees" on their property -- as long as an expert deems them "exceptional."
One of the strangest? Florida's greenbelt law, which gives significant property tax exemptions for preserving green space areas. The way to prove you deserve the exemption? Rent cows for your lot and pay significantly lower taxes.
And these contrasting quotes from the Herding Cats blog
When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely in your thoughts advanced to the stage of science — Lord Kelvin
We contrast that with Einstein quote
Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts.