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1  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: France have become the world's 5th largest economy today on: June 25, 2016, 02:42:36 pm
Yes, it is symbolic.  According to the IMF, they have been pretty close for at least 40 years.  Here are the 2015 numbers for the six highest aggregate GDP countries, in millions of US dollars.

United States    17,947,000
China    10,982,829
Japan    4,123,258
Germany    3,357,614
United Kingdom    2,849,345
France    2,421,560

France was last ahead of UK on the IMF list in 2012.  There were a few instances of back and forth before then as well.  Also, since their populations are also similar, they have similar per-capita gdp, and they have had for quite a long time.

The fact that "France has overtaken the UK to become the world's fifth-largest economy" is something you could have reported multiple times, and the next year you could report that "UK has overtaken France..." and they would continue to do so regardless of this vote.  More interesting is to compare the value of the pound to the dollar or other currencies.  In that aspect, there's a very clear and obvious effect of Thursday's decision.  For a long time, it took about $1.50 to buy a pound.  Now it takes about $1.36.  That's a nine percent drop against the dollar.  Oddly, the euro did not take a big hit.  The previous month average value of the euro against the dollar was $1.12.  Today it is $1.11.  I guess the public is confident about the euro even after the UK vote to leave the union.  This is a bit surprising, especially in light of all the articles written in the past two days about the probably demise, or weakening, of the European Union, but perhaps because it is so dependent upon the financial sector that the effects are larger for UK than for the euro zone.

How does one figure out whether the dollar has taken a hit?  The only other big player against which to compare it is China, but they manipulate their currency such that the comparison is invalid, although to be fair they did allow the Yuan to fall about 8/10ths of one percent against the dollar after Thursday's vote.  I guess you could look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but it only opened for one day after the results were announced so there's not much to go on.  At the close of business on that day, the DJIA closed at 3.4% lower than it did on the previous day, which is significant.

We might have a better barometer when the Federal Reserve Board meets on July 26 of this year.  Originally there was talk of raising the bank rate, for which I was thankful.  Now, there are a number of writers speculating that the fed might actually lower the rate this year.  There was also an article in Fortune this morning quoting the chief economist of DeutscheBank as saying that the fed will neither raise nor lower rates at its next meeting.  I guess we'll see.

2  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Which state has the worst name? on: June 25, 2016, 09:40:13 am
I like the euphonic native language names (tallahassee, talladega, alabama, tuscaloosa) better than the cacophonic native language names (nantucket, connecticut, massachusett, pawtucket).  That said, I tend to like all native names better than the ones imported from Europe, so names like Kentucky and Illinois are good ones, at least to me.  The sioux names (Minnesota, Dakota) are intermediate, somewhat more euphonic than the algonquit ones but don't quite roll as much as the ones in the southeast. 

Still, Spanish, English, and French names are okay if they're all Spanish or all English or all French.  Colorado, Nevada (those two get mispronounced by Anglophones, however, but when they're actually pronounced correctly they're very nice names), along with Florida and Arizona are nice.  Texas is a bit weird because it's an English pronunciation of a Spanish transliteration of an Attacapa name, and no one is really sure how the Attacapa peoples might have first pronounced it to the Spaniards. 

Probably the worst is Pennsylvania, because it combines an Englishman's surname with a latin word for forest.  I don't like mixing languages at all.  It's like saying polydentate ligand.  We should either say multidentate (all Latin) or polydontic (all greek).  Mixing doesn't work for me, so I vote for Pennsylvania.
3  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Capitals of states on: June 25, 2016, 09:02:18 am

Who the heck knows Springfield?

I do.  In fact, I had no trouble naming the ones you mention.  On the other hand, I had trouble with six others.  I was able to name 44 of 50 on the fly:


I guess I don't think of how small or large, or how well-known or little-known, a city might be.  I don't think that necessarily factors into the choosing of a capital.  Brazil and Belize decided to move their capitals inland 50 years ago to places that didn't even exist before someone decided to put the seat of government there.  If people need to travel to the capital on business, it makes sense to put it near the geographic center.  Harrisburg and Albany might be better choices in this regard than more economically important cities for capitals.  There may be cultural influences at work.  When Americans were in charge of Germany, they put the capital in Bonn, but all the times Germans have been in charge of Germany, they prefer Berlin. 

Why did the US move its capital from Philadelphia to a swamp on the Potomac River?  The city of Philadelphia seems not to have gotten over this injury.
4  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: France have become the world's 5th largest economy today on: June 24, 2016, 06:36:42 pm
I'd imagine that France has had a larger actual GDP than the UK for nearly a decade now, if it is counted fairly.  France and UK have long had different ways of counting beans.

Doesn't really matter.  The global economy is a house of cards.

5  Atlas Fantasy Elections / Voting Booth / Re: June 2016 Federal Election on: June 24, 2016, 06:13:03 am

1. Leinad/Lumine
2. Truman/Kalwejt
6  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Best Third Party Candidate? on: June 22, 2016, 06:37:00 pm
"Ah thank gubmit is a bisness, and therefore it should be run like a bisness."

No thanks.  Perot was an excellent candidate in terms of his performance, but thankfully he posed no threat to the establishment candidates in 1992, although many Republicans blame him for Bush's loss to Clinton that year (just as many Democrats just as erroneously blame Nader for Gore's loss to Bush's son in 2000).  Not that I'm a huge fan of either Bush 41 or Clinton, but at least the two of them know what a government is and what it ought to be.  Hint:  it does not exist to extract a profit from those governed.  Perot was a really smart guy in the same way Trump is.  Obviously one doesn't become a multibillionare by not being smart, but I don't think "successful in business" always translates to "good presidential material."

I voted for Hedges in this thread, because I am a "lean Hedges" voter in the Atlasian parlance.  As a practical matter, I think Johnson is an excellent candidate capable of appealing to a large part of the electorate.  He is among those I am considering voting for this November, along with Hedges, Soltysek, Smith, and La Riva.

character:  Hedges
ideology:  don't know/don't care.  I know most of Atlasia regards ideology as very important, and asks questions like "which one is likely to appoint justices who decide cases the way I would?", but I regard it as the least important qualifier.  
ability:  as much as I hate to admit it, Clinton.  She has a more impressive resume than any candidate this year, or any candidate for at least two decades, and although I wouldn't vote for her in a million years, I do think she has more knowledge, experience, and ability than anyone else running.  She'll use that experience to convince us to march headfirst into World War 3, but if your criteria is ability (as in understanding how politics work, both domestic and foreign, and in being able to exploit that understanding to affect policy), and you don't have any problems with the fact that she has narcissistic personality disorder and a criminal psychology, then she's your man.
7  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Orlando: melting pot of 3rd world miscreants on: June 22, 2016, 06:17:44 am
crack hoes

a cracked hoe:

8  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Will Hillary get a Bernie-Bump on: June 21, 2016, 06:11:14 pm
option 5.  Mostly because I hope Sanders never endorses Clinton.

Realistically, I'd say the first option.  Most folks who voted for Sanders are Democrats.  And by Democrats I don't mean like me.  (I happen to be a registered Democrat at the moment but I've also been a registered Republican in the past, and I loathe all parties generally.)  I mean that most folks who voted for Sanders are generally open to the perception that there are only two parties in the Known Universe and that there should only be two parties in the Known Universe and that the very existence of political parties is a good thing, and that they should accept whatever their party bosses tell them because political parties know best.  Thus if Sanders actually came out with an endorsement of Clinton, the majority of his supporters would not only vote for her--and the majority of his supporters will vote for her anyway with or without his endorsement--but they would do it with a clear conscience. 
9  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: If Bernie had won the nomination... on: June 21, 2016, 05:50:23 pm
which begs the question:  why are you wearing that hideous forest green shield lately?

I would think that red goes better with your eyes.  Wink
10  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Which state will Trump have a harder time flipping? on: June 21, 2016, 04:47:54 pm
pennsylvania, I suppose.  Neither is likely, although county maps can be deceiving.  Here are the results from 2012:

The red areas are small, but they are where the people live.  Also, pennsylvania state budget is one long mess, and I think people here blame the legislature and they associate with Republican policies, so even if it weren't Trump, it'd be a tall order.  Given that it's Trump, I think it's an impossibly tall order. 

On the other hand, the competition is Hillary Clinton.

11  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: TRUMP questions Clinton's religion on: June 21, 2016, 04:26:47 pm
Now, haven't we heard that before somewhere?


Donald Trump questioned Hillary Clinton’s commitment to her Christian faith on Tuesday, saying that little is known about her spiritual life even though she’s been in the public eye for decades.

Speaking to a group of top social conservative evangelical Christian leaders at a gathering in New York City, Trump said, “we don't know anything about Hillary in terms of religion.”
“Now, she's been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there's no — there's nothing out there,” Trump said. “There's like nothing out there. It's going to be an extension of Obama but it's going to be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary you don't, and it's going to be worse.”

and why is that exactly?

Because Clinton was born in the USA to Christian parents, whereas we don't really know what country Obama was born in but we do know that he went to a terrorism training school in Indonesia.
12  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: How will Trump do with white men? on: June 21, 2016, 12:07:19 pm
Is the bolded portion a typo?

Yes.  More accurately it was just sloppiness on my part.  I just looked it up:  according to Bloomberg.com, Romney received about 27% of the hispanic vote in 2012.  Trump gets about half that in recent polls, so a Clinton victory in Texas and Arizona is possible if Trump is only getting 52% of the non-hispanic white vote. 
13  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: How will Trump do with white men? on: June 21, 2016, 06:25:47 am
Beef, are you excluding Latinos from the pool of "white male" voters?  Latinos can be of any race, and in the latest census about 55% of self-identified Latinos also identified as white.  I'd imagine that in Texas the percentage is even higher, although I'm not sure what percent of Latinos in Texas would vote for Donald Trump.  Bush got about 40% of the Latino vote in 2004, and Romney did even better with that group in 2012.

I just don't think Trump will perform as well among any group, including white people and males, as the previous Republican candidates have performed because of the reasons I mentioned.  If McCain only gets 57%, and McCain had a ground game, a competent staff, and the support of the party, then it's hard to imagine Donald Trump getting over that, or even close to that. 

It's possible that Trump will begin to listen to the advice of others, hire a competent manager, and stop acting like a first-grader, but if all that doesn't happen, then we might just have a Democrat landslide.  I think you have to analyze more than just white males though.  Also, it's early.  This is an "if the election were held today" question really.  The election won't be held today.

14  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: If Bernie had won the nomination... on: June 20, 2016, 07:17:02 pm
What do you guys think the Green Party would have done? 

They would have done what they usually do, which is attack the two corporate-controlled parties and nominate an activist with a special interest in some particular ecological issue but with no executive or legislative experience.  The Green Party is pretty weird, and not just the US Green Party.  There are Green Parties in almost every country, and they're all strange and misinformed.  I've gone to a few Green Party rallies.  They're a fun group of people, but they don't follow syllogism well. 

By the way, the Socialists (a more appropriate group to ask about if you're going to start a thread about the effect of Sanders on alternate political factions) issued a press release long ago, early in the primary season, stating that Sanders is no socialist, and that his performance in the Democrat primaries will not affect their scheduling calendar.  In fact, not only Socialist Party USA, but also the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Equity Party, and Party of Socialism and Liberation have all selected nominees, and they did so regardless of the outcome of the Democrat party.  There's no reason to think that any group would be swayed by the self-styled "socialism" of Bernie Sanders. 

15  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Why the does the public swing right when.... on: June 20, 2016, 07:01:42 pm
There's a shooting or terrorist attack? Like if there's a bad one between now and then, Trump may get a huge bounce.

For the same reason that I suck my blood when I cut myself, and for the same reason that I look around to see where my son is when I hear a loud BOOM, and for the same reason that we collectively swing left when there's a sudden economic disequilibrium.

16  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: How will Trump do with white men? on: June 20, 2016, 06:08:02 pm
I guessed between 50 and 52%.  It's really a guess.  Bush took over 62% in 2004 and McCain took just under 58% in 2008.  Romney took about 62% also.  All those were heavily-supported establishment candidates, so the ceiling is probably 57%.  I don't think he'll get that because he doesn't have his ducks in a row and won't listen to any advice.  50 to 52 may be generous even, but that's how I voted. 
17  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do you miss elementary school? on: June 19, 2016, 11:13:10 am
There is a series of assessments.  Apparently they keep the IQ tests and gifted education results separate.  He doesn't even get a letter grade for that.  Placement in the gifted class is not a guarantor for being in the most advanced regular classes, and vice-versa.

They don't use the word "tracking" anymore.  It's politically incorrect, I suppose.  Whenever I ask them about it they quickly say, "we don't do that anymore."  I ask what they do to segregate, and they say that they have a series of informal assessments, and that teacher assignments do change, and that the schedule isn't really settled till about the third week of class.  My impression is that he'll start pre-algebra at the beginning of the sixth grade.  Students start pre-algebra either in the 6, 7, 8, or 9th grade, depending up when the district thinks they're ready.  We'll get a letter from the school district sometime this summer giving us information.  We just received the sixth-grade school supply list yesterday.

My neighbor, who was my son's 3rd grade soccer coach, has two children and he has talked to the school quite a bit.  He's a complainer and regularly visits the school district office to tell them how to do their jobs.  He has gained some information and shared it with me.  He said that based on teacher input, grades, interviews, and exam scores, the students are grouped by ability.  At the first open house the math teacher merely said, "if your child has been assigned to my math class, then it means that they have done well in the past."  He just left it at that.  They are also divided into teams.  All of them are named after birds of prey.  Raptor Four!  Go Raptor.  My son is on the Falcons team.  The others are Eagles, Hawks, and Osprey.  We tried to find a Falcon shirt for him, but all we could find around here are Eagles (and some Ravens and Steelers and Jets) shirts.  Next time we drive down to florida for a beach vacation, I'll try to remember to stop en route to get a Falcons shirt.

The Falcons all have the same math teacher, the same English teacher, the same social studies teacher, and the same science teacher, but they circulate through periods.  So I guess the 112 or so students on the Falcons team are in five classes of about 23 students each.  Maybe there are only 20 groups, then.  Four teams, five groups per team.  So that's 20, not 24.  Then, for the specials, like art, music, PE, and content applications (which is word processing, touch typing, use of printers, making powerpoint presentations, etc), there is only one set of teachers.  They do one quarter of PE, one quarter of art, one quarter of music, and one quarter of content application.  Each Team has a different rotation.  I listed them in their order for the Falcons, but there's only one art teacher, one PE coach, etc., for each grade.  Then they also have REM period, which I think stands for remediation, enrichment, and make-up work, or something like that.  Altogether, that's six periods, plus there's lunch and recess after lunch.  

On top of that, there are optional courses.  My son is also in band, and he has one drum section practice and two whole band practices each week, and he's in a gifted program, which meets for one hour twice per week.  He goes at assigned times which differ each week, so he has to keep up with it.  There's a schedule posted on our refrigerator and he looks at it before walking out the door each morning.  Anything he misses in his regular class he has to make up.  They don't excuse work because you have band or gifted education.  That's kind of a hassle.  Anyway, we worried about him being able to keep up with all that, but so far it has gone swimmingly.  There was only one day all year that he forgot to bring his practice pad and sticks to band, and on that day he had to play triangle or something like that.  He also forgot to go to gifted class once, but the teacher is nice and didn't give him a hard time.  They were doing stuff like barbie doll physics.  They tied different thickness rubber bands around Barbies neck and dropped her from the stairwell and measured various parameters of motion.  Physics = noose around Barbies neck.  Man, that teachers must have had some issues when she was a little girl.  Well, it was all in good fun and they learned some physics.

It's called Intermediate School, but it operates on what I think of as the Middle School model.  The group of 23 or so students he sees for most of the day are the nerdiest students in the district.  None of them play ball very well, but they're pretty good at making model rockets and battlebots.

Incidentally my neighbor, the complainer, didn't much care for the middle school model.  He says it was stressing his children out too much.  Last year he quit his job and his wife quit her job and about a year ago they sold their house and went on world tour.  They flew to Istanbul last summer and they're starting with Turkey.  They want to spend a couple of years educating their children themselves.  Home-schooling, it's called, and they got all the materials and expect to keep up with their studies on their two-year world tour.  I think he plans on returning when they're ready to start the 7th grade in the US.  He thinks that they'll be ready for that model by then.  
18  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do you miss elementary school? on: June 19, 2016, 09:35:27 am
I wouldn't know what to count towards the question. Elementary school was K-6 everywhere I lived in the 1960's. Due to family moves and school changes I went to 5 different elementary schools and that including doing K-6 in six years as I skipped a year as a result of one of my moves.

ha!  I went to 13 schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.  That's an average of one per year.  I think that by the time I had finished sixth grade I had attended seven schools.

Most of the places I lived had elementary school going from K through 5, although a few were K through 6.  When I began sixth grade it was in a Junior High school.  In the school district where we live now, elementary school is K through 4.  Beginning in the fifth grade, my son attended an Intermediate School, which is 5 and 6.  All six elementary schools in this district feed into one intermediate school, so there were about 450 students in his 5th grade class.  We experienced some trepidation about it at first, but as it turns out the advantages far outweigh the advantages.  There are two wings of a relatively new three-storey building, so 5th and 6th graders hardly ever run into each other except at the beginning and end of the day.  Also, with 24 academic levels there is a fine academic segregation, so instead of four classes, advanced, regular, regular, and slow, we have many more levels, and the science, math, and language arts classes he attends have the 25 highest-scoring students of about 450.  As a result, he is surrounded by students with similar abilities as his all day.  High proportion of Indians and East Asians in his classes as well.  It's sort of an elitist attitude, but I really like it this way.  Keeps him away from most of the bad influences most of the time, although not all the time.  He still rubs elbows with the naughty kids at lunch and at recess.

Also, we worried about lockers, combination locks, and going from room to room every 60 minutes.  Most folks don't start that till 6th or even 7th grade, but it starts in 5th grade here.  We thought he'd be anxious and confused, but as it turns out he really likes that aspect.  Right away he wanted a disco ball for his locker and some other bling.  He really personalized it.  And since he can't sit still for more than an hour at a time, getting to change classes and teachers was a blessing for him.  He also got to start drums at the beginning of the fifth grade.  Where I went, band had to wait till the sixth grade.  On the other hand, serious PE starts here in the fifth grade.  That is always his lowest grade.  It was always mine too.  I think he got a B-minus in PE.  I don't give him a hard time about that, so long as he takes an A in English, math, science, and all the regular stuff.
19  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: English on: June 19, 2016, 09:26:36 am
I love American English. But don't like British English.

We associate English with credibility.  I'm not sure why that is but a few psychology surveys have been published that supports this idea and marketers exploit it frequently.  Television commercials, for example, often feature Englishmen hawking the wares, which presumably makes us buy things.

Similarly, we associate American with fashionably attractive ("cool" in American English).  In the UK, the managers of musicians say, "Can we have a bit more of an American accent?" when the british rock bands rehearse.  If you listen to The Rolling Stones, you wouldn't even know Mick Jagger is English when you hear him belting out "I'm not waitin' on a lady; I'm just waitin' on a friend" in a decidedly US accent.  Default singing training in New Zealand now features standard US English vowel sounds as well.  

I don't know why it is, but I think there's some deep psychology (or sociology, or both) going on here.  There are some scholarly articles written on the subject, but whatever the reason, we like US accents for some applications and UK accent for other applications.  UK accent is for selling products on the television.  US accent is for rock bands.  I haven't figured out yet what Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, and Caribbean Island accents are good for, but they're good for certain applications as well.  Hunky Australian men (and voluptuous Australian women) are often featured as leading characters on popular movies, sports announcements, and certain types of advertisements.

I think all that has less to do with any discussion of articulation, and more to do with psychology, so it's probably a bit off topic.  Your post just reminded of all that.  

20  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do you miss elementary school? on: June 18, 2016, 08:02:08 pm
yes!  Everything important I learned during the K-5 years:  The alligator's mouth opened toward the bigger value.  Auxiliary verbs are only used with compound tenses.  Never be an asshole when you can be nice since it takes less effort and pays greater.  Also, school was more mellow back then.

Now I live vicariously through my son, though the days are numbered.  He has just finished fifth grade.
21  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Trump's totalitarian regime on: June 18, 2016, 06:45:13 pm
True.  Except on guns.  On that one, we made the exact opposite trade off.

interesting observation.  I hadn't thought of it.
22  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Trump's totalitarian regime on: June 18, 2016, 11:43:11 am
option 4.

We exchanged liberty for security long ago.  Individuals convicted of sex crimes, for example, who have served the sentences meted out by juries of their peers (as specified in the Constitution), and who have paid their debt to society, are now required to be on publicized "sex offender registry" lists which subject them to harassment.  Moreover, innocent individuals, who have been charged with no crimes, must arrive at airports hours before scheduled departure times only to be probed, prodded, and harassed by government employees--and they must pay 25 dollars per airline ticket for that privilege!  Double jeopardy, a concept that might make James Madison roll over in his grave, is common practice now and has been for at least 20 years.  People are compelled to make insurance companies richer, or pay a fine if they do not choose to purchase medical insurance.  Recently, we have learned that police murder individuals nearly every week, and grand juries repeatedly refuse to indict them.  

Donald Trump (or Hillary Clinton) merely needs to pick up where his predecessor left off.  The process of devolution from Democratic Republic to Police State is slow and stealthy, and it is supported by the people through their elected legislators, as evidenced by the fact that those voters continue to re-elect their incumbent legislators even as they stoke the flames of sensationalism and paranoia in order to maintain their employment as politicians.  The process started long before The Donald announced his candidacy, and will likely continue long after the next president's term ends.

23  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Is a "double bell curve" Clinton swing possible? on: June 18, 2016, 11:24:25 am
That looks more like a sinusoidally-varying function than a bimodal Gaussian distribution (aka "double bell curve").
24  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: How often have you... on: June 18, 2016, 10:39:27 am
Have no idea, many many times though. 

same here.  Voted 20 or more.

I don't use Craig's list much, but I have bought and sold stuff on Craig's List.

Clothes, mostly, are the items that we buy at a fraction of the manufacturer's suggested retail price, usually with a combination of sale and coupon.  I have a jacket that had a $79 dollar price tag that I got for 11 dollars.  I have a winter coat with a $399 price tag that I bought for 75 dollars.  Of course, it's always at the end of the season so I always have "last year's" fashions.  Everything I'm wearing now except the underwear were bought at less than half the sticker price.

It just takes a combination of patience and timing. 

For artesania, souvenirs and trinkets from street vendors it's usually pretty common to negotiate a price that is 50% of the asking price, but I always suspect that the asking price varies greatly depending upon whether you look like a local, a poor foreigner, or a rich foreigner.  An Egyptian might ask me for 10 pounds for a lamp that he'd sell to another Egyptian for 5 pounds, so it's not clear whether I should say that I got the lamp for 50% off when I ended up paying 5 pounds. 

Electronics, such as keyboards, guitars, toys, and computers, can usually be had for 50% below MSRP if you're not in a hurry and willing to spend some time shopping around.  One rule of thumb is:  go to the store to try, go on-line to buy.  For example, Guitar Center is a great place to practice, but I'd go with musiciansfriend.com when I'm ready to buy. 

Things like new cars and new houses are a tougher sell.  It's difficult to get more than about 15% off sticker price for a new car, and for a new house it's even tougher because the builder has to get his money back.  For used houses you have more wiggle room, but I can't imagine getting one at 50% off list price.  Of course, if you're a flipper, looking to buy repossessed houses and foreclosures at auction and put up with the fact that all the copper plumbing has been stolen by the dispossessed previous tennants, then you can get some cheap used houses.  I have a friend that bought a small house for 12 thousand, put 15 thousand worth of fixes in, and then sold the place for about 120 thousand.  Tidy profit.  I have neither the time nor inclination to be a flipper.

25  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: English on: June 18, 2016, 07:46:00 am
From what foreigners have told me, United States people are the easiest to understand.  I've heard that consistently from Chinese, Japanese, Italians, and Spanish-speaking people.  I think they'd say that they understand Canadians as well, and I think you should probably group them together as US/Canada, because although we can tell each other apart, I suspect that most non-anglophone foreigners cannot.  They always say they can understand yankee easier than brit or australian or caribbean islanders, but when I've pressed them to identify which is canadian and which is US, they generally cannot do so.

There are some exceptions.  When we first moved to Mississippi my wife had a great deal of trouble understanding the locals, especially black people (which were the majority of the workers in places like fast food and cheap retail stores.)  I never had any trouble understanding them.  One time we were at the cash register and the worker said something like "dad'be fo fitty fo" and my wife said, "I beg your pardon" and she said, "I saaaid dat itta be fo fitty fo."  They both looked confused and frustrated.  At some point I said, "Just give her a five and she'll give you change."

I can understand them all, even Belizeans and New Zealanders, but to my surprise I learned that not every one can.  Once, when I was hiking in Peru with a mixed group that included gringos, brits, french, and danes, I was having a snack and sitting next to a California couple who were talking with two girls from England and the California people were having trouble understanding the two English hikers.  It was amusing, but also painful.  I wanted to translate for them but I thought it rude to butt in so I just kept my mouth shut.  I'm not sure which English accent they had, but it wasn't the standard one that you hear on English movies.  They did speak in a strange way, and in particular didn't pronounce the letter T, like "letter" was rendered sort of "Leh uh" or something like that.  Still, I had no trouble understanding them.  

Now, jamaicans can be harder to understand.  They seem to be able to switch from English--their version of which is hard for some to understand--to Patois very easily.  Workers at resorts will switch rapidly to say something to each other and then back to English.  I like trying to understand the Patois but it can be difficult, and it is not made any easier in the fog of the readily available and highly potent ganga that is ubiquitous on that island.

Actually, the best single articulator (enunciator) of the English language that I've ever heard is Lieutenant Commander Spock of the USS Enterprise.  No one articulates like Spock, at least no one I've ever heard.  Spock is from Vulcan so maybe Vulcan should be an option.  On the other hand, the actor who played Spock is originally from Boston so there's an argument for Boston.  Then again, I lived in Boston for five years with two roommates of Irish descent, both originally from Boston, who definitely did not talk like Spock.  They articulated rather unusually, pronouncing the vowel sound in Paul the way Brooklyn people pronounce the vowel sound in God, and pronouncing the vowel sound in God the way Brooklyn people pronounce the vowel sound in Paul.  Bostonians also save up all their "r" sounds that normally come at the end of certain words and put them in weird places.  Sister becomes Sista, while Donna becomes Donner.  So Spock may not be a textbook example of the median Boston articulata.  

In the absence of the option "US/Canada/Vulcan with the exception of black people from Columbus and Irish people from Boston" I'll go with "American."

Edit:  I think that languages technically don't articulate; people articulate.  Perhaps the question should be better phrased as "From which of the following regions do the native populations articulate the English language most clearly?"
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