February 2, 2013

There are 41 sinkholes in the Pennsylvania state capital Harrisburg and the city isn't fixing them.

Too broke. The city borrowed $300 million to upgrade a trash incinerator. Meanwhile, the pipes under the city are a disaster and the sewage plant is polluting the Susquehanna River.

One sinkhole is 50 feet across and 8 feet deep, and they've just put police barricades around it. To deal with the desperate decay, locals are using the old strategy of humor — naming it "Super Sinkhole Walter" and designating it as a sightseeing point of interest on the travel website Foursquare.

71 comments:

MadisonMan said...

And it's not like the State is in any better shape, fiscally. The pension fund there is perpetually teetering, according to Dad.

BTW, saying 'Pennsylvania state capital' kinda obviates the need to add 'Harrisburg'. It's not like there's more than one.

Tim said...

It's so good the "blue state model" is working so well...

Who could have predicted using the fisc to buy votes and foster dependency on Democrat-run government at the expense of basic services like infrastructure would lead to a problem like this?

What those people need is a tax increase, STAT!

No way this is a spending problem.

No way.

betamax3000 said...

What first popped into my mind:

"I read the news today oh, boy

Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire

And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all

Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall

I'd love to turn you on"

Cue orchestra.

Mogget said...

Harrisburg has a particularly crazy mayor, Linda Thompson. Very strange person; has a rep for homophobic language that is uncommon in a politician.

kentuckyliz said...

The Rainbow God is striking Harrisburg with sinkholes as punishment for the mayor's homophobia.

CEO-MMP said...

Good grief, even when the Professor doesn't shoe-horn homophobia into a post, the commentariat is so well trained, they do it anyway!

Sigh.

LOL

Ann Althouse said...

"BTW, saying 'Pennsylvania state capital' kinda obviates the need to add 'Harrisburg'. It's not like there's more than one."

It's one of the most forgettable capitals. I think if you say "the Pennsylvania state capital," most people think something along the lines of: what the hell is the Pennsylvania state capital? It's not Philadelphia... I don't think....

Just trying to help.

I live in a state capital that I think is not forgettable, that I assume everyone knows as the Wisconsin state capital.

But do people learn and remember the state capitals like we did in the old days?

Can you name the capitals of all the 206 countries in the world? I made a point of learning them once (using an on-line flashcards thingy), but I can't remember them all anymore.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Harrisburg has always been a dump. I spent a big chunk of my childhood in nearby Hershey, PA, and the main feature of downtown was the slums. We used to beg my dad to drive through them so we could see all the broken windows and boarded up buildings.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Gov. Corbett's trotted out the old LCB thing for another go-round.

I've lost touch. Is Trenton still a shining city on a hill?

Ann Althouse said...

I don't even think kids today could fill out the names of all of the states if they were given a map with the outlines of all the states. Adults either.

I think children should be taught to draw a rough map of the U.S. with all the states outlined and named.

Pete said...

Betamax 3000 beat me to it.

MadisonMan said...

When we'd drive in the car when the kids were young, we'd play a game where they'd have to name the State Capitol, the State Flower, the State Rock...all the things that are helpfully listed in the Road Atlas. It passed the time. (I can draw a freehand map of the US with all the states in it)

You should put up a poll for your readers: Without looking, what is the Capitol of Azerbaijan? I couldn't tell you, but if given a list of cities, I might guess. It's not Tblisi -- that's Georgia.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

It's interesting how few state capitals are actually their biggest or best-known cities. The large majority aren't.

(I went to check the relative sizes of Madison and Milwaukee -- Milwaukee is bigger, of course -- and incidentally discovered that WI has an official State Microbe. Connected with cheesemaking, naturally.)

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Why don't they name the sinkholes after Presidents? Two more and they'll have a big hole called Barack Obama. Unless they want to name two holes "Grover Cleveland."

Ann Althouse said...

"It's interesting how few state capitals are actually their biggest or best-known cities. The large majority aren't."

It's like they did that on purpose.

I once did a conlaw exam about a federal requirement that states relocate their capitals to their largest city.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Althouse writes: I think children should be taught to draw a rough map of the U.S. with all the states outlined and named.

Al Franken fulfills your wish.

chickelit said...

Can you name the capitals of all the 206 countries in the world? I made a point of learning them once (using an on-line flashcards thingy), but I can't remember them all anymore.

I don't even think kids today could fill out the names of all of the states if they were given a map with the outlines of all the states. Adults either.


I used to be able fill-in a blank periodic table with all the elements. I lost it that skill but remastered recently by writing about the elements.

"A blank periodic table" is itself a mnemonic helper, just like the blank map. Interesting that both are intellectual constructs derived from nature. People are reverting to nature and are less able to perceive* abstraction.
______________
*per is the prefix of the day

EDH said...

Mayor of Harrisburg: "If any of you don't like it, you can always take the Hershey Highway outta here".

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

It's like they did that on purpose.

Well, of course they did.

Ben G. said...

I live across the river from Harrisburg, and have worked in the city for a number of years. The city is governed now by a lunatic mayor and a dis-functional council. The trash incinerator project was based on fraudulent bond issues pushed through by the previous "Mayor for Life" Steve Reed, and everybody expects indictments at some point for the cast of characters responsible. The Capitol building itself is spectacular though. Teddy Roosevelt spoke at it's dedication in 1905 I think, after the older Capitol building burned to the ground.

garage mahal said...

A smart country would redirect funds that build trillion dollar war plane fleets that don't fly and invest in sewer and water piping upgrades in cities around the U.S. That would create jobs too.


Hahaha. Just kidding!

Phil 3:14 said...

Obvious analogy; Harrisburg has been a sinkhole for PA taxpayers.

chickelit said...

Ann,

It's like they did that on purpose.

Well, of course they did.


Interestingly, Boston is the glaring exception. Did Boston self-exempt from the "rule" or were the other states trying not to act like Boston? I suspect that Boston was a bossy town back in the day and called more shots.

Paddy O said...

"It's like they did that on purpose."

State capitals are little lessons in history. Sacramento, for instance, isn't anything near the largest city in California, but when the state became a State, Sacramento was the biggest town.

It's hard to predict what cities are going to boom. Maybe it's the very fact that government is located there that keeps such cities from really taking off.

I assume everyone knows as the Wisconsin state capital.

I suspect it's about the same as Harrisburg. You know it if you are from the area. If you're not, then it could be Milwaukee, or... what's another town in Wisconsin...

Ben G. said...

EDH -

Route 322 East from Harrisburg was once known as the Hershey Highway. I worked with a guy who lived off that road and made the mistake of using it as his address on his first day of boot camp.

CEO-MMP said...

Hey garage!

That's what all those shovel ready jobs were supposed to be. How'd that work? Where's the money?

Check the union rainy day funds. I bet you'll find a lot of it there.

And I always forget Harrisburg is the capital of PA. I know it's not Philly, but forget H-burg.


Boston was kinda almost sorta the capital of most of New England, oncet upon a time. It's why the Bruins wear the 'spoked B'--Boston is the hub, hub of MA, hub of NE, hub (ask them) of the world.

Old joke: the hub is the part of the wheel that turns the slowest. Boston. Stodgy and slow. They banned The Moon is Blue, sending Hawkeye into an acquisition frenzy. It was a boring movie. Even Father Mulcahey thought so.

chickelit said...

Paddy O State capitals are little lessons in history. Sacramento, for instance, isn't anything near the largest city in California, but when the state became a State, Sacramento was the biggest town.

Easily visualized by considering a county map of California: link. Why, it's almost like the state was platted out around the gold deposits or something.

chickelit said...

@Paddy O: I screwed up your quote in my last comment. I didn't mean to plagiarize you.

Levi Starks said...

" Ann Althouse said...
I don't even think kids today could fill out the names of all of the states if they were given a map with the outlines of all the states. Adults either.

I think children should be taught to draw a rough map of the U.S. with all the states outlined and named.'


and then we could let Obama grade the map to see if they correctly named all 57 of them.

Bruce Hayden said...

"It's interesting how few state capitals are actually their biggest or best-known cities. The large majority aren't."

It's like they did that on purpose.


I don't think it at all strange. For example, the Nevada state capital is Carson (City). And, it too is almost easily missed - you are driving down US 395 through town, and notice through trees on one side the legislature, the actual capital, and the supreme court, and on the other side, some state agencies, mixed in with businesses. Some big old trees, and the traffic moves pretty quickly, so it is all gone in a couple blocks, and often I wouldn't even notice them as I would drive through there on my way between Reno and the airport, and my house 10 miles south.

Carson City was where a lot of Mark Twain's "Roughing It" occurred, being the territorial capital, and his brother being the secretary to the territorial governor (and Twain being secretary to his brother). At the time, it was probably the biggest city/town in the state, being near Mormon Station, the oldest White establishment in the state, and right on both the Carson river and the Lake Tahoe routes to California (which had superseded the Donner pass route by then). And, it, like Denver, grew up outfitting their local mining boom - both through accidents of geography. The population center moved north to Reno when the railroad came through, and then to Las Vegas first with the military in WWII, and then with the big gambling casinos, due to its vicinity to LA. But, back in Twain's day, that area was a desert, with very hot windy summers, no natural resources, and no noticeable white population.

Point with the short Nevada history is that the location of a state's capital is often historic, and was placed there for quite valid reasons 100-150-200 years ago. And, often, a state's demographics change dramatically after that, and the cost of moving a capital can rarely, if ever, be justified.

That said, I would have expected Philadelphia as the capital of PA, since by at least the Revolution, it was one of the most influential cities in the NW.

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't even think kids today could fill out the names of all of the states if they were given a map with the outlines of all the states. Adults either.

Don't know about public school, but my kid, in college now, sure learned both the states and their capitals in private school. I remember quizzing them at the time. They and their friends developed a song to remember them all, and on occasionally still sing it when they get together.

edutcher said...

Certain sections of Philadelphia have had the same problem since I was a kid.

Ann Althouse said...

BTW, saying 'Pennsylvania state capital' kinda obviates the need to add 'Harrisburg'. It's not like there's more than one.

It's one of the most forgettable capitals. I think if you say "the Pennsylvania state capital," most people think something along the lines of: what the hell is the Pennsylvania state capital? It's not Philadelphia... I don't think....

Just trying to help.

I live in a state capital that I think is not forgettable, that I assume everyone knows as the Wisconsin state capital.


5 will get you 10, most people would say, "Milwaukee" (Brewskis, Braves, Miller)

But do people learn and remember the state capitals like we did in the old days?

Of course not, that's a lot of DWM stuff. Besides, teaching them to memorize states and their capitals is too much like making them think.

That "distinguished educator", william ayers, would never approve of that.

Can you name the capitals of all the 206 countries in the world? I made a point of learning them once (using an on-line flashcards thingy), but I can't remember them all anymore.

When we were kids, you only had to know the capitals of Europe, the US, China, and Japan. everything else was a colony.

The good old days.

(besides, most of them today aren't real countries anyway)

MadisonMan said...

I'd always quiz my kids on Capitols. Name the ones with 'City' in their name. Which ones are named after Presidents? Which ones are also the biggest city in the state?

Car rides were one long quiz.

Phil 3:14 said...

Boston is the glaring exception

Uh, excuse me...Phoenix!

traditionalguy said...

OK, quick what's the capital of Nevada? Maine?

We gave the three year grandgirl old a US Map puzzle with the states cut out as separate pieces, and each one has the capital's name on it too.

edutcher said...

Carson City.

Augusta.

Fritz said...

Here, try it:

http://www.ilike2learn.com/ilike2learn/unitedstates.html

bgates said...

Two more and they'll have a big hole called Barack Obama.

We already have a big hole called Barack Obama.

The Drill SGT said...

Sacramento, for instance, isn't anything near the largest city in California, but when the state became a State, Sacramento was the biggest town.

Actually no.

Calfornia became a state in 1850, the Capital moved to Sacramento in 54. After being in San Jose and vallejo. Dont know the population in 54 but in 1850, after the gold Rush was underway for two years, Saramento had 6000 folks and San Francisco had 25000.

PS: I was raised there and mom still lives there...

MadisonMan said...

Boston is the glaring exception

Uh, excuse me...Phoenix!

Denver....Indianapolis....Honolulu...Oklahoma City...Salt Lake City...

And so on.

AJ Lynch said...

206 countries? That can't be correct- Diane Sawyer said there were thousands of countries.

kimsch said...

Ann Althouse said...

I don't even think kids today could fill out the names of all of the states if they were given a map with the outlines of all the states. Adults either.

I think children should be taught to draw a rough map of the U.S. with all the states outlined and named.


The Little Guy's been able to do that since about 4. I have a link to a blank US map that I'll print out for him occasionally. He will ask me for one and write in states or color in regions. He loves maps.

He will draw the globe, with continents. Sometimes he add the solar system.

Maybe one day he'll be a cartographer.

bagoh20 said...

I always thought capitals were usually smaller cities because when your working to screw them over, you don't want too many people within stone throwing range.

chickelit said...

Uh, excuse me...Phoenix!

Denver....Indianapolis....Honolulu...Oklahoma City...Salt Lake City...


I'll grant you Honolulu but there is an imperial history there. But the others are just territorial capitals which were chosen because they were centrally located. The importance of the city followed its becoming the capital.

elkh1 said...

Charge an admission fee to tourists to sightsee the "Super Sinkhole Walter" landmark, a true land mark.

elkh1 said...

Ann Althouse said...

"I think children should be taught to draw a rough map of the U.S. with all the states outlined and named."

All 57 of them? An impossible feat.

DADvocate said...

My dad liked this teaser: Some people say "looh -ee-vil", other people say "loo-is-vil", how do you pronounce the capital of Kentucky?

Frankfort. A definitively small, grubby city, btw. Neat capital building though.

What state has the oldest working capital building (capital building still in use as a capital building), which also has two people buried in the walls, intentionally, plus a president and his wife buried on the grounds? Hint: it's in a state where the capital city happens to be the largest city in the state.

wyo sis said...

Kids in public schools here still memorize the states and capitals and place them on a map.

Titus said...

I loved to memorize state capitals, birds, flags etc.

I then started to memorize all the countries capitals.

I love that shit.

I am excellent at populations too.

I used to memorize the Wisconsin State fold out map which had populations with "cities" over like 1000. I knew which locales were "cities" or "villages" or "towns"-lots of unincorporated places in Wisconsin.

I also still study cities growth/decay-population changes-I find that stuff fascinating.

The U.S cities populations have been pretty stagnant over the past 20 years while India's have had enormous increases.

tits.

kimsch said...

Dad,

It's Lou-ah-ville....

kentuckyliz said...

Another fun hobby is to learn whether the state capital is mammarian or phallic in shape.

Des Moines, Iowa is mammarian.

Lincoln, Nebraska is phallic.

southcentralpa said...

GarageMahal: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/016/659dkrod.asp yes, actually stimulating the part of the economy that was hurting might've actually reduced unemployment. Can't have that ...

[And a formal apology to the Professor about the time zone slip-up yesterday. FWIW, the two states that everyone messes up: Michigan is eastern time zone, and Alabama is central.]

Titus said...

Montpelier is the smallest capital but it is fucking cute and actually feels kind of cosmo.

Lots of fags, vege stores, dykes, organic shit, coops-it so fucking Vermont. Tons of boutiquey stores too commie farmer groups, and expensive restaurants for the tourists from Boston and New York.

southcentralpa said...

And Pierre is prounced like "pier", not like the name...

DADvocate said...

Kimsch - most Louisvillians I know pronounce it loo-uh-vuh. But, the correct answer to "How do you pronounce the capital of Kentucky?" is "Frankfort."

southcentralpa said...

I don't think the capital of Louisiana would have the same diginity if it was called "Red Stick".

kentuckyliz said...

The capitol of Kentucky is Frankfort.

A better reason to visit the area is the Bourbon Trail and the scenic horse farm country driving tour, horse farm visit, and Kentucky Horse Park - info

If you come out to where I am in eastern Kentucky, you can do some Hatfield McCoy Feud related touring. Hillbilly Days is a big fun festival in April. info

kentuckyliz said...

Google Translate says Des Moines is French for Of Monks.

I grew up there and never knew that.

kimsch said...

Dad - LOL

virgil xenophon said...

IRRC, 90% of all the bridges, tunnels and sewer systems east of the Mississippi are over 100 yrs old. We're talking MASSIVE bloc obsolesence here..

kimsch said...

KentuckyLiz - and It's "deh moyne" (Des Moines)Iowa, but "dess plains" (Des Plaines) Illinois... My dad had a French student once who asked him where "deh plawn" was...

Tucked down in the southern point of Illinois is "kay ro", but in Egypt it's 'kye ro"

virgil xenophon said...

Speaking of kids of today being "geographically challenged," wannaq hear something morbidly pathetic? A few years back I came upon the results of some national geograpgy test for High Schoolers in which NOT ONLY did 50% of the test-takers place the State Of New York WEST of the Mississippi, but EVERY SINGLE STATE west of the Miss. R was identified as NY State at least once..

"I weep for the future." is NOT a just a throw-away line in Ferris Bueller..

virgil xenophon said...

**I see I'm big into "g"s & "q"s today, lol

DADvocate said...

kentuckyliz - my son plays football for Georgetown College. They played Pikeville College at Pikeville this past season. I drove through there on my way to Wise, Va for another football game. Trevor Setty, who plays basketball for Pikeville College, is from my son's high school, Mason County. Kelly Wells, the basketball coach at Pikeville, used to coach at Mason County and won a state championship there.

Having grown up in East Tennessee, I love the hills around Pikeville. Elkhorn City is in a beautiful spot. I believe if it was more easily accessible, it could be a popular vacation/resort area.

Chip S. said...

♫ 41 sinkholes in Har-ris-burg,
41 sinkholes so far!
You fill one in, two others cave in!
42 sinkholes in Har-ris-burg! ♪

[repeat, ad inf.]

EMD said...

My dad and I used to do cities and their newspapers.

EMD said...

There are a lot more assholes in Harrisburg, too, but the city ain't too keen on fixing them, either.

Christy said...

Baltimore gets its water from the Susquehanna when the local reservoirs are low.

roadgeek said...

I was given a 50-state jigsaw puzzle as a gift when I was a child. I spent hours with that thing. Learned some geography, and learned every state capital, too. Children today? Naaaa.......

Phil 3:14 said...

Another fun hobby is to learn whether the state capital is mammarian or phallic in shape.

What does that say about New Mexico's?

Paul said...

Well you play the liberal shtick and expect to go broke.

High taxes, UNIONS, payoffs, labor strikes, fees, etc... and after a while the hard working people leave or go Galt and that leaves, well you know, the welfare kings and queens.

But in TEXAS... hahahaha we are good to go.

Hope you like that Change.