California: The sad state of a failing state

Are things that bad? If you have 10 minutes to spare and are in the mood for reading, read the Guardian article:

Will California become America’s first failed state?

… California is like a patient on life support. At the start of summer the state government was so deeply in debt that it began to issue IOUs instead of wages. Its unemployment rate has soared to more than 12%, the highest figure in 70 years. Desperate to pay off a crippling budget deficit, California is slashing spending in education and healthcare, laying off vast numbers of workers and forcing others to take unpaid leave. In a state made up of sprawling suburbs the collapse of the housing bubble has impoverished millions and kicked tens of thousands of families out of their homes. Its political system is locked in paralysis and the two-term rule of former movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger is seen as a disaster – his approval ratings having sunk to levels that would make George W Bush blush. The crisis is so deep that Professor Kenneth Starr, who has written an acclaimed history of the state, recently declared: “California is on the verge of becoming the first failed state in America.”

… California is currently cutting healthcare, slashing the “Healthy Families” programme that helped an estimated one million of its poorest children. Los Angeles now has a poverty rate of 20%. Other cities across the state, such as Fresno and Modesto, have jobless rates that rival Detroit’s. In order to pass its state budget, California’s government has had to agree to a deal that cuts billions of dollars from education and sacks 60,000 state employees. Some teachers have launched a hunger strike in protest. California’s education system has become so poor so quickly that it is now effectively failing its future workforce. The percentage of 19-year-olds at college in the state dropped from 43% to 30% between 1996 and 2004, one of the highest falls ever recorded for any developed world economy. California’s schools are ranked 47th out of 50 in the nation. Its government-issued bonds have been ranked just above “junk”.

Read it full at Guardian

It has this chilling effect for me.

Girl, 13, sends 14,528 SMS in a month

What? 14,528! That’s a hell lot of text messages. That’s around 480 text messages!

Girl, 13, sends 14,528 texts in a month

SILVERADO CANYON, Calif., Jan. 11 (UPI) — A California father says he discovered his 13-year-old daughter sent 484 text messages per day last month — one message every 2 minutes of every waking hour.

Greg Hardesty of Silverado Canyon, Calif., told the New York Post his 440-page cell phone bill revealed his daughter Reina had sent an astonishing 14,528 text messages.

“First, I laughed. I thought, ‘That’s insane, that’s impossible,'” said Hardesty, 45, a reporter for The Orange County Register. “And I immediately whipped out the calculator to see if it was humanly possible.”

Hardesty said Reina had messaged a core of “four obsessive texters,” all girls between the ages of 12 and 13. Luckily, he was on an unlimited text messaging plan or his bill would have been $2,905 at a rate of 20 cents per message, the Post reported. (Source: UPI)

That’s quite an achievement.

The most important car since its invention – Honda FCX Clarity

Top Gear reviews the Honda FCX Clarity: the most important car for 100 years. This is pretty cool:

Top Gear Honda FCX Clarity review

The Honda FCX Clarity is an electric car runs on a hydrogen generator. The only thing that comes out of the exhaust pipe is water.