Linky Friday #2

(A) This is old news, I guess, but I found Angus Jones’s comments about Two and a Half Men (which he sorta retracted) to be… well… accurate. But it’s entertaining filth. Anyhow, I don’t know that his apology will help him. The fact that they already replaced a key cast member might have, though. But if things don’t work out, Kirk Cameron needs costars.

(B) In all of the realignment over the past year, only one non-BCS FBS conference has not lost a (full member) team: the MAC. Only two full members have left the conference in the last fifty years (and one of them came back and is the school headed to the Orange Bowl). Stuff like this is why.

(C) Good on San Francisco for approving super-small apartments. If we want to increase density (a liberal goal) and keep places affordable (also a liberal goal, though more of a conservative one in my experience), projects like this need to happen. Hopefully DC follows suit. Also, stuff like this is awesome.

(D) Speaking of which, Amsterdam is sending shipping containers to house UK’s homeless and sending its own undesirables to “scum villages.”

(E) Jon Last talks about what I’ve been talking about. The increasing shift away from the traditional family has political ramifications. Will Republicans be able to reach out to the atypical?

(F) The Washington Post is planning a paywall. I think this is a mistake. They aren’t the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Their only competitive advantage, to my eyeballs, is that they are free. C’mon, WaPo, what use is it to have a newspaper running a bunch of scummy for-profit schools if you can’t use it to keep your newspaper afloat?

(G) Knock-off textbooks for free! This is a brilliant idea, if they get away with it and can figure out how to make money from it. There is a bubble here to be popped (apologies to my father-in-law, who has a side-career writing textbooks).

(H) Joshua Gans lays out a surprisinglysolid case for why online schools shouldn’t bother with accreditation.

(I) Last week I spoke approvingly of federal university. The UN is launching a global university. Given that in a number of parts of the world a college degree is much more than a credential, I wish them luck.

(J) An interesting poll at Brown University on their students’ views of affirmative action. Ron Unz also has a good piece on American Meritocracy and Ivy League admissions.

(K) I was prepared to dislike this article about what the US can learn from Canadian immigration policy, but I love it. The federalist in me especially loves it.

(L) Chris Blattman says that the connection between corruption and development is not what we think it is. Is this one of those things that we sorta want to be true because it’s so convenient to believe?

(M) Why Belarus uses Opera Browser: Authoritarianism. Bad things have their upsides, I suppose. Opera is a pretty solid browser.

(N) A lot of the things that people tout that should be cost-savers for medical care turn out not to be. Preventative medicine being one. Online access to doctors being another. Contrary to popular belief, limitations of access more generally can really be cost-savers for the system. Intervention begets intervention.

(O) This is an outstanding question. Why aren’t we all using Japanese toilets?

(P) How Eastern and Western cultures tackle learning. Some recent studies have suggesting that the Eastern method is better in the overall. But I can’t imagine it’s something that could be accomplished here.

(Q) Along these lines, this article about Singapore is really quite interesting. But there is limited applicability to the US generally (not the least of which because they are apparently relatively emotionless and we… are not). I even question its applicability to China, where Sumner focuses.

(R) The problem with articles like this, that talk about the sexual revolution and hook-up culture as being bad for women, is when it becomes about how women should treat other women, as opposed to how men should expect to be treated by women. If there is a component of scolding women for being too free, there should be a stigma to being with the man that was with her.

(S) Musicians demanding more money from Internet radio like Pandora would be more understandable if Pandora was actually making good money. They aren’t.

(T) Female teachers give male pupils lower marks. In the UK. I’d be interested to see what kind of results we’d get here.

(U) Having been out of the comic book collecting universe, I hadn’t realized that digital comics were doing so well. I’d thought that the biggest threat to comics retailers was bookstores and Amazon.

Addendum: Added letters for easier referencing.

Will Truman

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


  1. Re the Washington Post paywall — Anyone willing to bet that it will be as porous as those of the NY Times and LA Times? Assuming the same type of implementation, a reader using Firefox with NoScript (eg, me) will never notice that the paywall has been turned on. I still think one of the law- or philosophy-types here should write a front-page piece about whether there’s an ethical problem with bypassing a paywall when it is possible for people to do so inadvertently.

    Re Singapore — As I understand it, the government mandates the level of contribution to the HSA and pension accounts. So that while taxes may be capped at 20%, a middle-class Singaporean may find that 50% of their gross income is withheld. Some people might not call mandatory contributions to an HSA or a pension, with a government guarantee to pay for care if it exceeds what you have in your account, a tax; I do. There’s at least one person here that lives in Singapore, yes? I’d like to hear their take on whether people there regard mandated savings as taxes or not.

    • People don’t call it a tax, but it often elicits more grumbling. People can use their CPF to pay for their homes, so it is not as strict as it may initially sound. People often adjust by using their other income for other things and using their CPF to pay off a housing loan or something. How high is the payroll tax in the US anyway?

      • Payroll taxes in the U.S. are roughly between 16% and 25% depending on the state. Again depending on the state, roughly between 40% to 50% is paid out of employee wages and the balance by the employer directly. The bulk of those payroll taxes are (in theory) dedicated to Social Security; the remainer are (in theory) dedicated to unemployment insurance and an insalate misto of assorted Federal and state medical benefits.

          • I see the source of my confusion. I was looking at the employee-side. You are clearly referring to both the employee and employer side.

          • Well, unemployment is typically paid only on the first portion of payroll for an individual each year. The federal rate is 6.0% on the first $7K, only 0.6% of which is actually collected if the state has a conforming program. Many states have average rates lower than the 5.4% on $7K — that’s one of the carrots that keep states in the program, lower taxes for employers. Here in Colorado, for a new non-construction business, the rate is just about 2.5% on the first $11K. Businesses with a “good” history pay lower rates; with a “bad” history higher rates. Construction business rates are higher from the get-go because statistically, one can anticipate such businesses will have a “bad” history due to seasonal layoffs.

  2. 1) Those 220 Sq. Ft. apartments? How many people may live in one? In NYC, they were stuffing about 6-7 people into 300 Sq. Ft. tenement apartments, and that includes part of the space used as “home office”.

    2) Interesting. High school is all about training robots. I think the “innate smartness” is something… different. And far more precious.

    3) American research on students shows that boys tend to be marked lower than girls, particularly in primary schools — due often to their propensity to misbehave in class. It may very well be the case that women teachers are marking boys down for good reason, as well.
    I very clearly recall an algebra II class where the boys talked the entire time and wouldn’t pay attention to the teacher at all.

    • What 220 sq ft apartments? A 4 room flat which is what a typical middle class family stays in is 900 sq ft. A 3 room flat is about 600 sq ft. 1 room flats which are only available for rental and often used as temporary places to stay by the very marginal are still 350 sq ft.

          • As it happens, I found your comments about housing sizes in Singapore to be interesting. So it was a benign misunderstanding.

            I’ve added letters to easier referencing.

          • When my wife/then-fiancee and I were looking to move to our own apartment sans roommate, we were perusing the ads and saw one that said, “500 square feet, pets ok.”

            “How big is 500 square feet?” I wondered out loud, to which our roommate responded, “A damn big pet.”

  3. I’m thinking about those 220-foot apartments. Seems like they’ll be in one or two buildings on a pilot basis, at least at first. And seems like they’ll particularly attractive to single young people. Lots of hooking up going to happen in these micro-units. That’s not a bad thing, of course. But I’m thinking that as couples form, they’ll want to move in together into larger places, so the demand will be for short-term or even monthly leases on these places, and high turnover makes for greater risk for landlords, which in turn pushes the rent up (as will the reputation that if you rent one of these places, you’re likely to get more action).

    • I stayed in such an apartment when we first arrived in Deseret. It was about 14×14. Over 19 months, I had 7 next door neighbors over that time. Though it was right across the street from Deseret State U, and billed itself as “University Apartments” the biggest issues weren’t youngsters coming and going but miscreants and ex-cons. I have fond memories of the place, actually, but it was nonetheless a relief to get out of there.

      • How it it laid out? At Berkeley, two people shared 13×13 dorm rooms, but they had no kitchen or bathroom space.

  4. re: (I)

    Insofar as America’s and The World’s Poor are being held back by lack of Education, this idea will help (on the margin).

    Insofar as America’s and The World’s Poor are being held back by lack of Credentials, this idea will not help one whit, and will probably hurt them.

    What proportion of each is Responsible for holding back America’s and The World’s poor is one of the Great Questions of our time.

    • I don’t think the answer is the same between the US and the areas of the world I think the UN is aiming this at.

      • If you’re working over the timeline of two generations – which is the earliest this project could show any value – the distinction is irrelevant for a globalized economy. (assuming things go well)

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