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Politics


Recent polls suggest that Republicans and Democrats have slightly different tastes that have nothing to do with politics.

If you like cats, The Beatles, and Starbucks, you tend to vote Democrat. If you're into Toby Keith, Budweiser, and Dunkin' Donuts, you tend to vote Republican.

But an interesting new quiz claims to be 98 percent effective at determining people's political affiliations by asking questions that have zero to do with politics.



Click here to take the quiz.

So how does it work? (Don't read the answer if you haven't taken the quiz yet.)

According to ChartsMe, recent studies have found that people who were more prone to disgust are more conservative. This leads them to more closely align with the Republican Party.

Some scientists believe it's ancestral and that the adverse reactions to conditions we'd label “disgusting" were used to protect primitive ancestors from contamination and disease. This way a person wouldn't confuse drinking water with dirty pond scum. But if the test told you that you're a Republican, you probably won't accept that explanation because studies show you probably don't believe in evolution.

Click here to take the quiz.


This article originally appeared on 08.09.18

Democracy

This Map Reveals The True Value Of $100 In Each State

Your purchasing power can swing by 30% from state to state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

Map represents the value of 100 dollars.


As the cost of living in large cities continues to rise, more and more people are realizing that the value of a dollar in the United States is a very relative concept. For decades, cost of living indices have sought to address and benchmark the inconsistencies in what money will buy, but they are often so specific as to prevent a holistic picture or the ability to "browse" the data based on geographic location.

The Tax Foundation addressed many of these shortcomings using the most recent (2015) Bureau of Economic Analysis data to provide a familiar map of the United States overlaid with the relative value of what $100 is "worth" in each state. Granted, going state-by-state still introduces a fair amount of "smoothing" into the process — $100 will go farther in Los Angeles than in Fresno, for instance — but it does provide insight into where the value lies.


The map may not subvert one's intuitive assumptions, but it nonetheless quantities and presents the cost of living by geography in a brilliantly simple way. For instance, if you're looking for a beach lifestyle but don't want to pay California prices, try Florida, which is about as close to "average" — in terms of purchasing power, anyway — as any state in the Union. If you happen to find yourself in a "Brewster's Millions"-type situation, head to Hawaii, D.C., or New York. You'll burn through your money in no time.

income, money, economics, national average

The Relative Value of $100 in a state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

If you're quite fond of your cash and would prefer to keep it, get to Mississippi, which boasts a 16.1% premium on your cash from the national average.

The Tax Foundation notes that if you're using this map for a practical purpose, bear in mind that incomes also tend to rise in similar fashion, so one could safely assume that wages in these states are roughly inverse to the purchasing power $100 represents.


This article originally appeared on 08.17.17

Democracy

Ret. Major General explains the difference between an AR-15 and the military's weapons of war

Major General Paul Eaton was the commander in charge of training Iraqi troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He knows his weapons.

Retired Major General Paul Eaton shared his thoughts on whether the AR-15 is a "weapon of war."

A common criticism gun rights activists levy toward gun legislation advocates is that many people who push for stricter gun laws don’t know a lot about guns themselves. That’s not wholly accurate—there are plenty of gun enthusiasts who support reasonable gun laws—but it’s true that many people who are horrified by our nation’s gun culture are not well-versed on the specifications of our nation’s 393 million guns.

Not every American is an active part of American “gun culture." Some of us have never shot a firearm, for fun or otherwise. Some of us really are ignorant about guns themselves.


That can’t be said for anyone in the military, however. And it definitely can’t be said for a former Major General of the U.S. Army.


That’s why an explanation of the difference between an AR-15 and military-style firearms from retired Major General Paul Eaton has gone viral. Major General Eaton was the commander in charge of training Iraqi soldiers during Operation Iraqi Freedom, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about when it comes to weaponry.

He wrote:

“As the former Commanding General of the Infantry Center at Fort Benning and Chief of Infantry, I know a bit about weapons. Let me state unequivocally — For all intents and purposes, the AR-15 and rifles like it are weapons of war. A thread:

Those opposed to assault weapon bans continue to play games with AR-15 semantics, pretending there’s some meaningful differences between it and the M4 carbine that the military carries. There really aren’t.

The military began a transition from the M16 to the M4, an improved M16, some years ago. The AR-15 is essentially the civilian version of the M16. The M4 is really close to the M16, and the AR-15.

So what’s the difference between the military’s M4 and the original AR-15? Barrel length and the ability to shoot three round bursts. M4s can shoot in three round bursts. AR-15s can only shoot a single shot.

But even now, you can buy AR-15s in variable barrel lengths with Weaver or Picatinny rails for better sights and aiming assists like lasers. Like the military, but w/o the bayonet.

But our troops usually use single shot, not burst fire. You’re able to fire a much more accurate (deadly) shot, that way. Note: you can buy our Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight on Amazon. So troops usually select the same fire option available on AR-15.

That is why the AR-15 is ACCURATELY CALLED a ‘weapon of war.’ It is a very deadly weapon with the same basic functionality that our troops use to kill the enemy. Don’t take the bait when anti-gun-safety folks argue about it. They know it’s true. Now you do too."

Eaton is not the only former military leader who has spoken out in support of gun legislation. In 2019, a group of 13 influential retired military leaders wrote a letter to Congress, pushing it to pass the Bipartisan Background Check Act.

"Each of us has, at some point in our lives, made the choice to risk our lives for our fellow citizens and place ourselves in harm’s way," they wrote. "We were trained, we were coached, and we were prepared for the dangers that we chose to face. This is not the case for most Americans, yet they continue to face danger on the sidewalk, in their homes, at school, and at work. It is in the same spirit that led us to serve in the armed forces that we ask you, our elected leaders, to help protect the American people from gun violence here at home. We urge you to support this legislation."

Police leaders have also voiced strong support for gun legislation, which makes sense considering how much harder and more dangerous our free-for-all gun culture makes their jobs. The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the largest professional association of police leaders in the world, has a position paper that outlines the gun safety laws it supports, including firearm offender registration, waiting periods, closing the gun show loophole, banning semiautomatic assault weapons, armor-piercing ammunition, bulletproof body armor and more. The IACP states that these are “common sense policies that would assist in reducing gun violence, while upholding the second amendment.”

Yep, the largest police leader association supports banning semiautomatic assault weapons like the AR-15. Here’s what it has to say about that:

“First passed in 1994, the assault weapons ban required domestic gun manufacturers to stop production of semi-automatic assault weapons and ammunition magazines holding more than ten rounds except for military or police use. While the ban was in place, it was remarkably effective in reducing the number of crimes involving assault weapons. In the period of the ban, (1994-2004) the proportion of assault weapons traced to crimes fell by a dramatic 66 percent.”

If those who oppose gun legislation don’t want to listen to people who don’t know enough about guns to speak authoritatively on them, that's fine. Perhaps they should listen to these military and police leaders who not only know guns inside and out, but who also have the firsthand experience on both sides of the barrel to speak authoritatively on what can help minimize America’s gun violence.


This article originally appeared on 06.04.22

Bella Vandala points out some major contradictions in American life.

Bella Vandala, a musician, podcaster, and popular TikToker, is going viral for making a video where she points out 5 things about the United States of America that make little sense to her. She’s found that there are some deep contradictions in American life when it comes to its mental, physical and financial health.

“Why do you think that is?” Vandala asks.

Warning:This video has strong language.

1. "Why is it that in America, we have more fitness centers than anywhere in the world or any generation before us, but none of us are actually fit?"


Vandala is close to correct here. The U.S. has the most gyms globally, although it is ranked #3 regarding fitness centers per capita (Canada and Brazil have more). When it comes to whether we are “fit” or not, the U.S. is ranked the 10th most obese country in the world.

@bella_vandala

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2. "We have more vitamin and supplement centers than anywhere else in the world or any generation before us, but none of us are actually healthy."

The United States is the second biggest market in the world for vitamins and minerals. Although it’s hard to determine what being “healthy” is, a 2016 study from the Mayo Clinic found that only 2.7% of Americans exhibit 4 fundamental healthy lifestyle characteristics.

These four were:

Being sufficiently active

Eating a healthy diet

Being a non-smoker

Having a recommended body fat percentage

3. "We pay more on a daily basis to obtain regular food and none of it has any healthy or nutritional properties at all ... it's actually poisoning us and making us sick."

For most people, it has to feel like the United States is the most expensive place in the world to buy groceries, especially in 2023. However, that award goes to Sweden, with the U.S. coming in at 7th, globally. However, the food quality in America has become a real problem because Americans eat far too much packaged, processed, high-calorie, store-bought and restaurant foods. "We're really in a nutrition crisis in this country." Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, told NPR.

4. "We have an abundance of mental health resources, but we are all suffering from anxiety, depression, or insomnia."

An interesting fact about American life is that even though more people are turning to mental health practitioners for help, our psychological well-being appears to be getting worse. From 2019 to 2022, the use of mental health services has increased by nearly 40%. However, the U.S. ranks 29th in the world in depressive disorders and is the largest country on the top 30 list of countries with the highest depression rates.

5. "We work harder than we ever have, but we’re always f****** poor."

She’s right here. Among other developed countries, Americans work some of the longest hours and take the least amount of vacation. But for many, it doesn’t translate to financial security. A recent report found that 60% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and even people of higher income are affected, too. More than half of Americans earning over $100,000 a year live paycheck to paycheck as well.

Even though Vandala’s claims aren’t entirely factually correct, her overall points are in the ballpark and reflect how many people in America feel. Undoubtedly, America is a country of contradictions where our lifestyles and goals aren’t always aligned. We want to be healthy, but our food isn’t. We work hard, but the cost of living is too high. We want to feel good, but the stresses of day-to-day life are too much.

"I just can't f******wrap my head around it,” Vandala concludes her video. “I seriously can't. Never before in the history of America or in any other country have they put such a large amount of money and attention into health and beauty to not be healthy nor beautiful. Why do you think that is?”