Linky Friday #1

So… I spend a lot of time collecting links. They end up over at Hit Coffee in the form of “Linkluster” posts. I’ve been debating whether or not to post them over here. There are some divergent interests between here and there so it’s not necessarily easy to present a good set of links for both. So for now, I’m going to do a “Friday round-up” of links from Linkluster/Twitter that I think y’all might find interesting. In the future I may migrate to putting them up during the week.

Our legislators almost slipped a law through that would have reduced royalties for web radio. Alas, it was not to be. The libertarian in me can appreciate where the artists are coming from, but this seems to be an area where… things aren’t working right. I blame consumers.

I’m impressed that the New York Times ran this while Chris Christie laments the death of the Jersey Shore and New York recovers. It brings up a good point, particularly for those who believe that the ocean levels are going to rise due to global warming.

Patrick Ruffini pens a really good article at something the GOP needs to look at. It has nothing to do with policy, and more to do with human capital. This was something that Karl Rove understood.

Kay Hymowitz takes a look at the political gender gap and thinks it has less to do with actual gender than we think. There’s something to this. It also strikes me that one of the things that makes the GOP vulnerable in the longer run is – as much as other things discussed – the increasing dissolution of the family itself.

An indepth article on the evolution of online collegiate learning. Meanwhile, maybe we can learn something from India and institute federal universities. I actually think that’s a pretty solid idea. If anyone is interested (or maybe even if no one is), I’ll write a post on the subject.

The title of this article (“Why do we let our kids play tackle football”) had me expecting to object, but the contents and suggestions for reform are really quite reasonable.

A word of caution before entering the cloud. These are real concerns, and the inefficiency of the cloud is too infrequently discussed.

A public health proposal to issue Smokers Licenses. I’ll get on board with this as soon as we issue “alcohol drinking licenses.” The arguments for alcohol licensure is stronger. If we’re going to do this, we shouldn’t just target icky people we don’t like.

If liberals want regulation to become more popular (or less unpopular) and/or redeem the government as being something that is here to help, they need to take a hard look at things like this.

McMegan writes about The Incredible Shrinking Sugar Bag. I believe she’s quite wrong on this. If we’re looking at rising prices or smaller packaging, we should go with the latter. It can help people by reducing spoilage, among other things.

The case for cheap purchases. Actually, it’s more about the whole “experiences and connections over things.” It corresponds nicely with arguments about money not being everything. Wise words that nobody actually lives by and most often spoke by those who have things.

Colorado’s new pot law could lead to a black market boon! That’s not the way it’s supposed to work, but it still deals with supply deficits and a lack of financial punishment will lead in some degree to increased demand.

Maddox tells truth. The degree of signalling going on with I F***ing Love Science is significant. And, at least in my cohort, it is a degree of signalling not easily disassociated with (ir)religion and politics.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. A dozen cases of ingesting rare earth magnets since 2009? Three freakin’ years in a country of 300+ million and 12 cases is a cause for concern?

    This is the sort of thing that makes me stupid ranty frothy at the mouth regarding terrible risk analysis skills.

    • Hm; the CPSC report that Reason links actually cites: “Although magnet sets have only been available since 2008, we have determined that an estimated 1,700 ingestions of magnets from
      magnet sets were treated in emergency departments between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2011.”

      As a proportion of emergency room visits, that might still be pretty insignificant, but 1,700 != 12.

      • The CPSC report is… confusing. I may not be reading it close enough. It talks of 1,700 incidents, and then talks of 50 (43 plus 7 maybes). I can’t figure out what the difference is. It is worth noting that of the 1,700 incidents, 1,600 were treated and released (I assume the remaining 100 were hospital admissions). Maybe the 12 is a lower estimate from the 50 or from the 100 incidents that actually involved hospital admissions? Reason’s source (CNN) was not particularly clear on that.

  2. You might point out to the libertarian in you that by applying one set of rules to radio broadcasters and another to internet radio, there’s rather a lot of interference in the market already. Per the link, even the legislator “aligned with record industry interests” doesn’t propose to change the rules that give radio broadcasters their licenses.

    Or you could remind the libertarian in you that copyright only exists because of government intervention in the first place, but that seems likely to start a whole different argument.

    • Well, Libertarian Will (L-Will) thinks the whole system sucks. Dissenting Will (D-Will) – agrees, though not for the same reasons.

      L-Will says, the system sucks, and while he thinks broadcast radio and Internet radio ought to be treated roughly the same, we should look at the options on the table. The royalty amounts should be set high so that independent and lesser artists can therefore under-bid them. This should create a delineation between Boutique Radio, which would comfortably feature the artists that we all recognize, and Adventure Radio, where we can go and perhaps deal with less ads but have a less familiar set of artists who are trying to work their way up to Boutique Radio.

      D-Will says that this is not happening at all. And blames consumers. D-Will takes a more result-oriented view. This view notes not only is this not happening (stupid consumers), but thinks that the royalties would actually get in the way of Adventure Artists being discovered. The more venues, the more that Pandora and the like can intersperse their music with the big names and the more likely they are to be discovered. So Pandora and the like are very important and their business should be encouraged. Ideally, it’d be as free for Internet Radio as it is for Broadcast Radio, but the latter is simply grandfathered in.

      Arguments like copyright – which D-Will and L-Will both agree should be reformed, though neither view the existence of such as a good reason to aggressively set rates – don’t hold much sway in either direction.

      • I could perhaps be convinced to agree with L-Will on what the perfect world is. If But that’s not on the table.

        So long as broadcast radio follows existing licencing law (which it seems none of the proposals would change), you won’t see the Boutique/Adventure radio split in broadcasting. And my suspicion is that the broadcast radio market dwarfs the internet radio market, and this is likely to continue if they continue to enjoy their special position regarding licensing.

        Further, even were they to operate on the same rules, Adventure Radio (and Niche Radio, which features artists that are recognized, but only by a small segment of the population) is better suited to internet radio. The fixed costs of adding a broadcast radio station are higher (including a band of the EM spectrum, an at least somewhat limited resource).

        • I could perhaps be convinced to agree with L-Will on what the perfect world is. If But that’s not on the table.

          D-Will largely agrees. Yet in at least one of the articles I read, it seems that the independent musicians want the higher royalties, too.

  3. Re the GOP talent gap article (and others similar to it that have appeared): putting anti-science planks in your platform, and anti-science members on the House Committee on Science and Technology, and having one of your best future prospects dance around the question of whether the Earth is older than 6,000 years, all have consequences.

    • ‘Strewth. IFLS is about the trappings of sconce, not the real thing, which is (unfortunately) as far as most people are going to get. But loving the trappings of science beats the hell out of fearing and despising them.

    • Although I have to admit that the Republican Party itself seems to oppose a fairly narrow set of fields. Is it opposed by a vocal enough part of the religious right? Does it threaten fossil fuel companies? Is it “big” science that has to be paid for by the government? Consider as an example that there is little or no opposition to military science — unless it’s things like the Navy’s funding of bio-diesel research. The Navy knows that their reach is significantly reduced without the copious amounts of diesel and JP-8 it takes to train and operate a carrier strike group. And seems to take some version of peak oil theory — peak production, peak exports, something — seriously enough to start looking at fuel sources other than petroleum.

      • You touched on what my objection was going to be. The only numbers I’ve seen actually demonstrate that there isn’t a Republican deficit in science in the overall. There are just a few really significant blindspots. Namely, creationism and global warming. Though, on the latter score, critics of global warming are statistically scientifically literate in the overall. The pro-science, anti-science thing is an oversimplification when it comes to the rank and file.

        I also want to add that I think there is a pretty significant difference between being skeptical of global warming and swearing up and down that the world is 6,000. Both of these positions may be scientifically unsustainable, but the profile of the two sets of adherents is significantly different.

        Anyway, back to the main thing, because the rank and file are not as different as initially appeared, it shouldn’t be a problem finding numbers people, statisticians, and so on to hire for the GOP. Computer people do tend to the left (or libertarian, not Republican), but it’s not a hard allergy. They just need to find and recruit people who are either politically indifferent (a job being a job) or lean to the right… they’re out there.

        • I don’t doubt that the Republicans can find statisticians and people to do the analytics. I’m much less sure that they’ll have people at the top of the party and ticket that will follow the statistics and analytics. Romney had pollsters and statisticians — who were all badly wrong, so far as we can tell. The loudest voices of the party — Limbaugh and Co. — were full of reasons why the independent statisticians were simply wrong. The most-quoted outside poll analyst on the Republican side was Dean Chambers, who didn’t, so far as I could tell, offer any statistical arguments based on data. He argued the same “gut feelings” the rest of the Republican leaders did. Why was it only self-identified liberal statisticians asking the question, “When Rasmussen and Gallup deviate from the rest of the polling organizations, are they right or wrong?”

          The last two-three years of my technical career, I was the principle technology analyst charged with providing upper management with an informed view of what the competition could do with their tech (which was different than ours). I was not a popular person (and retired as part of a corporate take-over). But by God, I was right about what the competition could do and when they could do it, and had hard-science reasons for the projections. The top people who were paying me, then telling me to shut up because they didn’t like the answers? Not so much. Yeah, I’m kind of bitter about it, but I see the top levels of the Republican Party doing the same damned thing.

          • I’m much less sure that they’ll have people at the top of the party and ticket that will follow the statistics and analytics.

            That’s the real challenge that I think Ruffini is issuing. To hire the right people, not to signal to them that they’d better tell you what you want to hear, and to listen to them.

            Believe it or not, they were not far from this under Karl Rove. This is made hard to believe because of Rove’s conduct, but I think the two are related: Rove had an utter wealth of statistics and data that he believed in fervently. The problem was that it was outdated and I think since 2004 they’ve not been working on that front.

  4. From the article on cloud computing:

    If you are doing “small storage” – defined by me as less than 100GB per month as of October 2012 – then the answer is most likely “yes, you can move that around without degrading your internet connectivity”.

    My entire iTunes library: 3.5GB. My entire photo library: 9GB. All of my documents: 2.4GB.
    A hundred gigabytes? This guy’s talking to companies, not individuals. (I wouldn’t use cloud computing, unless Dropbox counts, but that’s for privacy reasons. Google, not to mention the online world at large, already have far too many ways to know far too much about me.)

    A public health proposal to issue Smokers Licenses. I’ll get on board with this as soon as we issue “alcohol drinking licenses.” The arguments for alcohol licensure is stronger. If we’re going to do this, we shouldn’t just target icky people we don’t like.

    The two don’t strike me as equivalent. Alcohol can produce dangerous behaviour, whereas smoking does not, but tobacco smoking is more addictive (it’s a lot easier to drink occasionally than to smoke occasionally) and, partly for that reason, more harmful to health across the board; occasional drinking doesn’t harm health. The point of the measure is simply as another deterrent to smoking, since smoking can’t be done without significant harm to health; since a person can drink moderately without harm to one’s health or others, there’s less reason to want to deter everyone from drinking any alcohol whatsoever, so the same policy reason doesn’t apply to alcohol.

    McArdle’s article makes me very thankful that I have a big bulk-food store nearby, so I can get just the amount of sugar I want. Bulk food’s been getting a lot less common (10-15 years ago most regular grocery stores had it; now hardly any do), which is unfortunate – it’s the cheapest and most effective way to buy a lot of things, and has far more product choice than the grocery aisle. I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t still be profitable.

    Agreed on buying inexpensive things, although if you do them too often they stop being a treat and just become part of your regular budget (going to the movies has transitioned from “something to treat myself to” to “something to do if I’m bored and there’s anything that looks kinda interesting” – though not so much this year, when there was always something I wanted to see because it’s been Geek Year at the movies).

    As for love of science – I doubt there’s a lot of people who really love the scientific method. They love it when the scientific method, or just any kind of research, discovers something new, especially if that something is fossils of an ancient and deadly animal, or anything that suggests the slightest possibility of the existence of aliens. In the same way, people don’t love an actual cookie recipe written down on a little piece of paper – they love cookies. “I appreciate scientific information, especially when it’s cool” is a fine, if somewhat shallow, attitude, and can be reasonably expressed as “I love science!”

    • On the other hand, drink is one thing where licenses might actually work well as licenses, not as just one more deterrent. Most people, as you say, can drink responsibly. Some people, however, cannot, and allowing them access to alcohol poses a significant risk of harm to themselves and potentially others (via drunk driving, etc). So licensing could potentially allow most people to drink alcohol, while excluding problem drinkers.

    • Re: Cloud Computing,

      100GB actually is consumer grade. I am tempted to say having 3.5GB is unusually low, but it may not be. Having 100GB is not that unusual, though. That’s 100 CD’s, 20 audiobooks, or a small collection of videos.

      Re: Drinking license,

      Fnord says what I was going to. The primary ostensible reason for licensure is protection for those around the licensed. The distinction between those who can and cannot handle alcohol responsible is actually a reason why the beer license would make more sense. Those who can’t handle alcohol responsibly pose a greater threat to everyone around them. I agree that they’re not the same, but the distinctions tell me that we should go with alcohol first. Also, to me, there’s something fundamentally dishonest about smokers licenses for the sheer purpose of making purchasing tobacco a PITA. If there is in fact no sensible way to consume tobacco, then there really isn’t a logical reason to issue licenses for doing so. It should be allowed as one of those non-sensible things that people do, or it should be banned because it’s bad for you.

      Perhaps it’s mostly just indicative of my cohort, but a whole lot of the IFLS comes across to be as animosity towards those that “hate science.” That’s probably unfair, but it seems to be true at least some of the time (and among professional whites of a non- or anti-religious bent – my crew).

      • If we estimate that a CD gives about an hour of music, that would be 100GB for 100 hours of music. I’ve got 50 hours in 3.75GB. Either music quality (and thus memory required) has been vastly increased since I got my CDs, or your calculations are off. The latter seems more likely to me, since the whole iPod premise wouldn’t work if it took 1GB per CD.

        My three episodes of Sherlock, at 90 minutes each, take up 3.62GB, so the calculation for movies seems off too.

        I do agree that the IFLS has a lot to do with hostility to social conservatives.

        Regarding smoking and drinking licenses, your arguments and Fnord’s are good ones (and I do think that our regulation of smoking has gone well beyond the idea of protecting other from second-hand smoke, and into the arena of just making life as difficult as possible for smokers to discourage the habit; on the upside, regulation along with messaging to make smoking be ostracizing rather than ‘cool’ been hugely successful, so I lean towards thinking it’s worth it). The question the drinking license idea raises for me is whether it would help alcoholics by keeping them away from liquor, or if it just lead to more liquor-store robberies by alcoholics who couldn’t get any friend to buy them alcohol.

        Also on the smoking note, I wonder if at some point the liberalizing laws on marajuana and the tightening laws on tobacco are going to cross over to the point that it’s easier to smoke pot.

        • I mixed up that paragraph. The calculations were meant for 3.5GB and not 100GB. My main point being that 3.5GB seems really small to me. 100GB is anything but small, but I don’t think it’s that unusual, either. Especially among people interested in the Cloud.

          You’re right about the anti-smoking regs having a positive ostracizing effect. It’s absolutely true. It’s for this reason alone I am tempted to support a lot of them and do support some of them. I am becoming increasingly skeptical of them, however, primarily on pragmatic grounds. Stack the rules too much against smokers (not giving them a place to do so) and the rules simply get ignored.

          I will find it hilarious when/if pot becomes legal and the big, bad tobacco companies are making a mint with Marlboro and Winston brand joints.

        • I have about 800 CDs ripped at 384, that’s 80gb. Kitty has about 40gb of pictures (10 megapixel camera fills up space fast), and she snaps photos in compressed format. Real (TM) photographers store their photos in RAW format, which is huge.

          Also, ~20 iTunes movies at about 3gb each and three television series at about 10gb total.

          So, yeah, 100GB is consumer grade. People who have their movie collection entirely in digital format, or the aforementioned photo bugs can easily get close to a terabyte.

          • 192, if you are using VBR, is just fine IMO, and when storage space was an issue I used it pretty exclusively after doing fairly extensive A/B comparisons at various sampling rates (my own subjective ears/headphones only, it’s not like I was analyzing waveforms or anything), and 192 VBR seemed to offer the best sweet spot between audio fidelity and filesize.

            It’s only if you start to really amplify them, like if you run them through a serious system at high volume or a PA such as if DJ’ing, or are using very high-end ‘phones/speakers, that you may want to use higher sampling rates.

            Since I now have a massive redundant storage system, I rip a master lossless copy for home listening, and 256 VBR lossy copy from that for portable listening.

          • as we say in my household, “anything but flac is wack”.

            (please note no one actually says this in my household.)

          • “anything but flac is wack”.

            (please note no one actually says this in my household.)

            Good thing. If they did, they’d deserve a smac.

          • Also, I picked up some Pan Sonic (Kesto). That one seemed like the most bang for the buck.

            I have only gotten partway through the first disc, so I can’t really comment yet, except to say that for some reason it made me think of Tri Repetae (though when I put TR on to compare, TR was actually much *less* noisy than I remembered. Still damn good though, I hadn’t listened to that one in a while).

            I also finally broke down and got some Demdike Stare. I kept away for a long time because of all that “hauntology” hype crap. You know what? It’s just dub, really. Good dub, but if you like “trad” dub like Perry or Scientist, or more modern “electronic” dub like Pole’s first 3, it’s really not all that different.

          • I’m usually lower than 192.
            And anything over 50k sample rate is beyond the range of human hearing anyway.
            It’s well beyond the range of my speakers.

            Speaker warmth will make up for some lower bit rate, until you get really down there.
            12″ speakers are where it’s at.
            You need to have something decent to drive them though.

          • kesto is a good choice – that’s 4 hours ish of some of their best work. the last disc is rather abrasive in the small tones attacking your brain / early nurse with wound sense.

            i’m not sure i’m on board with demdike stare’s dub roots, beyond using a lot of echo in some pieces. dub as a technique, maybe.

            though i like simon reynolds, hauntology is a dumbass name for anything – has derrida ever improved something? obviously not. i tend to lump them in with the love affair with 70s cheap horror soundtracks and the whole british library sounds thing that i feel i will never understand having never been a child in the uk.

          • i buy or rip to flac for ease of conversion later on down the line if needs be, but i think anything over 192 is probably a waste for people who don’t really care that much, or are going to be using portable players in portable situations.

          • Hmmm, this is pretty straight-up dub if you ask me (as the title, “Haxan Dub”, indicates):


            But I agree that not all the stuff on there is as dubby as this is, and this is their first (I think) record, so maybe they move away from this sound.

            Pole’s first 3 were not exactly “dub” in the traditional sense either, but I think of them as such – the linked track sounds a bit like Pole too.

          • i think there’s a uniquely british current to a lot of this that i simply don’t get but some uk folk i know instantly recognize it. sort of like what boards of canada did for those of us who grew up when filmstrips existed, but very unique to bbc children’s and incidental music programs.

            pole was really great – well, the first two albums were. the second is one of my all time favs. saw him back when the cooler still existed. small show, very very very loud. good times.

          • You may be onto something. Maybe it’s just me. BoC was also something that I just did not get. BoC’s pleasant enough, but never surprised me the way Autechre or Aphex can.

            I just did never got the hype around BoC, they really kind of bore me. Which is weird because a lot of people really considered them A-list stuff, but to me they just seemed…obvious, I guess?

            So if there is some ‘extra-textual’ thing I am not getting here as well, that could be the problem.

          • i tend to chalk it up to (largely) their excellent songwriting. music has the right to children is one of my top ten of allllllll tiiiiiiiiiiiime joints. but i do think that weird filmstrip hook they built into things with the dx7 sounding bells and phasey strings is more than a little nostalgia-ringing for a lot of the fans of that first album in particular. (they explore it in different ways in followup releases)

          • Whoops, sorry, didn’t mean to rag on one of yr favorites. Many ppl I know love them, but they just never really worked for me (though I remember thinking ‘Geogaddi’ was a step in the right direction, as it seemed a little ‘spikier’ and took me longer to get bored/frustrated and eject it).

            But I always seemed to immediately know pretty much where a BoC composition was going as soon as I heard it – what is weird, is sometimes that anticipation can be really satisfying (“Here it comes – I can tell this song is getting ready to rock – YES! IT’S ROCKING NOW! I ROCK TOO!!!”) and sometimes it is really boring/frustrating (“yep, that went exactly as I expected it would, I could’ve told you that would be how it would go.”); and I don’t really know sometimes why I have one reaction rather than the other. The answer is not simply ‘repetition’, because I often LOVE repetition (VU/Spacemen, Plastikman, Neu!, etc.)

            Maybe I will give BoC another chance. Ripping them in now.

          • ha, not at all. but yeah they’re not going to surprise anyone, especially these days, though i’d like them to put out a new album eventually. but yeah sometimes stuff don’t click, nor is it meant to.

  5. “I actually think that’s a pretty solid idea. If anyone is interested (or maybe even if no one is), I’ll write a post on the subject.”

    Please do. Because I think it’s a terrible idea. At best, it will be totally ineffective, and if not, it will make things worse.

    There are around 13 million full time students in a degree granting institutions, and over another 8 million enrolled part time. How big of a system does one need to create to actually make a difference, and not just be a boutique institution? (the way the service academies and this proposal are.*)

    More importantly, which the linked article actually reveals (with its dig at the University of Phoenix**, you can’t just plop down a facility, fill it with teachers and students, and call it ‘elite’. And in any case, are our ‘elite’ institutions actually in trouble?

    BTW, I like the link compilation, please keep them coming.

    *which have their own issues. For one, no matter how worthwhile the service academies are, they are essentially relics of an aristocratic, medieval legacy in military organization. And the proposed public service academy (which also doesn’t seem to have its own website anymore), is a bit cargo culty, in that the service academies have a large, well established and clearly defined system to feed into. The public service academy grads would be making it up as they went along. Plus, the dirty little secret of a military academy graduate (or a ROTC commission, or a joe schmo of the street that goes to OCS), is that you’re really not worth anything for at least a couple of years after you get your commission, and the government really doesn’t start to get its money worth out of an academy education or ROTC scholarship until they get the person to re-up)

    **I’m agnostic as to whether its deserved or not.

    • Alrighty then. I only needed to be asked once! A disclaimer, though, my ideas and priorities are not exactly the same as theirs. But there was enough overlap that I felt I could cite it approvingly.

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