Map of the day

Every library in America on an interactive map.  Cool!!  (click through for the interactive version).

Every Library and Museum in America, Mapped


Kevin Drum had a nice post on all the money the IRS has been to have wasted on conferences that hits a bigger point I really like:

The hot news today is the scandalous revelation that the IRS spent $4.1 million on an employee conference in Anaheim a few years back. Here’s a typical description:

Some 2,600 Internal Revenue Service managers gathered in Anaheim, Calif., in August 2010 were treated to $50,000 worth of comic videos and $135,000 worth of guest speakers, one of whom collected $17,000 to paint portraits of famous personages on stage, an audit found….Some $64,000 was spent on giveaway swag for all attendees, including thousands of logo-emblazoned “brief bags” and spiral journals, 800lanyards, 75 travel mugs and 75 picture frame/clocks, and various other customized knickknacks such as pens, can coolers and Post-It notes…

And for what it’s worth, can I add that every single private company in the country has held more of these kinds of conferences than you can count? Yes, there’s a Dilbertish case to be made that they’re stupid and a waste of time. I was always fairly cynical about them, myself. But trust me: the rock-jawed titans of the private sector do all this stuff and more every single year. You might think it’s dumb, but they all seem to think it’s worthwhile. Is it any surprise that IRS management figured it was worthwhile too?

Exactly.  This probably is dumb, but private companies do thinks this dumb all the time and we just don’t know about it (or care too much) because it is not taxpayer dollars directly (though, often indirectly) at stake.  There’s nothing at all unique to the waste, inefficiency, and stupidity in government bureaucracies.  It’s a part of most all large organizations.  The difference is we actually hear about it when it’s a place like the IRS.  Can you imagine the vast amount of waste along these lines that must happen at a place like GM?

Meanwhile, Gallup has a series of questions on the IRS that really demonstrate the pointlessness of polls when the public doesn’t really understand an issue:

President Obama Job Rating on Handling of IRS Matter

Really?  What about Obama’s “handling” do they exactly disapprove of?  Firing the interim IRS director who had absolutely nothing to do with it?  Denouncing it quite vociferously?  Or is it just the fact that Republicans disapprove of Obama on everything and many Democrats just don’t like the whole business, whether they understand Obama’s role (or lack thereof) or not.  I’m going with the latter.

Photo of the day

Love this National Geographic photo from their best of May gallery:

A picture of seagulls flying over Rome

Roman Skies

Photograph by Gabriel Bouys

A long-exposure picture shows seagulls soaring over the Roman sky on May 2.

Every photograph is actually a time exposure—images may be recorded in a fraction of a second or over hours. Shutter speed can be adjusted to do either very long or instantaneous exposures.

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