Linky Friday #12

Shield - Strike Team Conference


[I1] Fans of the movie Spaceballs will appreciate this.

[I2] The residential property in the ten most expensive London boroughs is now worth as much as all the housing in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined…”

[I3] According to the Daily Mail, the NHS in the UK is going after your data.


[B1] An interesting look at the history of race in soft drinks.

[B2] The Obama Administration may be holding up the pipeline, but they have approved substantial offshore drilling leases.

[B3] According to the Canadian Press, Mining companies that are getting visas for foreign employees are rejecting candidates with 30 years of experience.

[B4] I am inclined to criticize employers who expect perfectly qualified employees to roll up on their doorstep, and think that the notion that we have a shortage of skilled workers is built on this mentality. Dominic Giandomenico makes the opposing argument.

[B5] Maybe a solution to global warming is laziness. Richard Heinberg thinks we need to redesign our use of energy. Which, if that’s what we need to do… we’re doomed.

[B6] Some interesting predictions on the future of air travel. One thing that will likely not come to pass is more airlines getting into the oil refinery business.

[B7] Big Coal may be in for some pain ahead, and for once it isn’t because of the Obama Administration.

[B8] A new report says that the Family and Medical Leave law is working. We were certainly glad to have it.

[B9] Automation may not take away jobs, but they will suppress wages. This is one of the things that makes me skeptical of trade restrictions to boost domestic employment and wages. There are very often going to be other options.


[E1] Atlantic Wire looks at political types who tried to make it in Hollywood and succeeded or failed. The record for Democrats is mixed, but Republicans generally failed. There are remarks each side can make about that.

[E2] If you like Chuck Klosterman or professional basketball, or if you’ve heard of Royce White, I recommend this article.


[L1] Florida has approved birth certificate with three parents. I still don’t fully understand why, given the lack of rights/responsibilities of the third parent.

[L2] If you just stole an iPhone from someone else, it’s not a particularly good idea to call the cops when someone steals it from you.

[L3] Remember the robber that accepted an offer of pizza for his family instead of robbing the place? Too nice a story to be true, I guess. He was lying.

[L4] Paging Ryan Noonan: A man who took his wife’s name was accused of fraud. It does seem to me that there ought to be documentation for both men and women to change their names, but if you’re going to give one a pass, so should you with the other.


[T1] LibreOffice 4.0 is out! I’m still waiting to see what OpenOffice does with the code they got from IBM before I go all-in with Libre (except Access, which I just can’t quit).

[T2] Dick Tracy watches are truly an idea whose time has come and kudos to Apple if they’re on top of it. There are “smartwatches” that talk to smartphones, and smartphones that go on your wrist, but there’s still work to do to get it right.

[T3] Bitcasa touts infinite online storage. They have my attention.

[T4] Maybe this is why Google wants us to use something other than passwords. (Seriously, an interesting article on James Fallows’s wife’s email being hacked.

[T5] I disagree with Michael Calabrese. What is bring proposed here is actually much better than government-sponsored WiFi everywhere.

[T6] I am coming around on the idea of Ubuntu smartphones, which are supposed to be coming in October. I’m not sure I will get one, but I’m a little worried that after I throw in my lot with Android, Ubuntu will get it right.

[T7] In other smartphone news, it’ll be interesting to see how the Kindle Phone does. Jose Gonzales calls it a sure thing, but I’m not so sure. The Kindle Fire succeeded in part because it was a tertiary device. It’s different to hand one’s phone over to Amazon. But it could well work out, especially if they subsidize the crap out of it.

Will Truman

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


  1. Your link for B4 goes to the canned air in China page. I’m holding out for Diet Canned Air myself.

  2. Link T3: I don’t understand file storage systems as well as I’d like, so hopefully someone can answer this: Is it possible to store a backup of my whole internal hard drive in some way at bitcasa? In other words, if my (Windows 7) hard drive dies, I’d like to be able to buy an identical internal hard drive and restore it in its entirety from a file I store at bitcasa. Is this possible?

    • Acronis disk imager will work. So will a couple other programs. Bitcasa probably won’t unless they’ve licensed certain things from Microsoft, and they probably haven’t (disclaimer: I have no idea).

      Windows Backup will serve to make a copy of your drive, but you’ll need a working Windows installation to restore it; it’s not bare metal.

      File storage sucks, almost universally.

      Send me an email.

  3. E1 totally ignores Fred Thompson’s excellent turn as the mean factory boss on Roseanne. That was clearly the highlight of his career.

  4. E1: Democrats do politics and then go to Hollywood. Republicans leave Hollywood to go into politics. IOW, Ashley Judd: you’re doing it wrong.

  5. The E2 article was a fascinating one. I thought about writing up a post on it but thought it to big for me. There is also a podcast with Bill Simmons that talks about it.

    I found it a bit wanting because there still seemed to be an undertone of, “Well, it’s just a MENTAL illness,” to what Klosterman wrote/said, which I disagree with and I think we are increasingly realizing is not the right mentality and, most importantly, is exactly what White is pushing back against.

    I’m curious to see what would happen if he did pursue any sort injunction via the ADA. Klosterman/Simmons discussed that he didn’t really have a “right” to play basketball and thus shouldn’t push his luck, but this seemed to basically ignore the basics of the ADA as I understand them.

    Really fascinating stuff, to say the least.

  6. B7: The most important thought to take away is hidden in this sentence: “China is underreporting its need for urbanization and the infrastructure surrounding it, which includes electrification.”

    Here’s the situation. China and India are trying hard to lift billions of people out of poverty. No one in the world knows how to have a more affluent society without increasing the use of electricity in proportion. From the perspective of a poor country, nothing else offers the combination of ease of production, ease of transport, and inexpensive low-tech conversion to electricity that coal does. Particularly if you’re a poor country with large coal reserves. Unsurprisingly, essentially all of the substantial growth in global coal consumption for the last decade has been China and India (my version of the EIA chart people around the Web have been agonizing over the last couple of weeks is here.

    The developed countries have no alternatives to base load generation to offer them. No low- or no-electricity path to prosperity. No clean-coal tech to make coal-fired generation more acceptable. No way to deliver corresponding amounts of a cleaner fossil fuel like natural gas on the scale necessary. No storage tech that would overcome the intermittency problems that all renewable power sources have. No advanced nukes (eg, small modular factory-built sealed reactors movable by rail or ship with high burnup rates and decade or longer refueling intervals with an at least relatively-safe plan for dealing with the wastes).

    The choice for the developed world seems to boil down to either (a) tell China and India that they’ll have to remain poor, and takes steps to enforce that, or (b) live with the consequences of steadily increasing CO2 levels, and hope those consequences aren’t as bad as the worst-case scenarios (eg, the possible positive feedback loop of warmer arctic temperatures thawing permafrost and releasing methane clathrates).

    • This, to me, exemplifies why I am backing away from my more green views. Not that I am skeptical of the existence of global warming or that we are causing it, but that we’re going to convince China and India to stay poor. I am increasingly of the mind that we’re going to have to figure out acceptance and remediation of the consequences, as opposed to preventing it from happening.

      • There is something really terrible about developed nations, which became developed through a variety of environment-damaging processes, calling on undeveloped and developing nations to avoid environment-damaging processes and sacrifice development in the process.

        • Agreed. The counterargument is that it’s the poor nations that will be hit the hardest by global warming (Americans can afford to relocate inland if the waters rise, or something like that, easier than the Indians). But if I were Indian or Chinese, I would… find the whole thing to be really convenient on the part of the developed nations.

          • It’ll be convenient until all those Bangladeshis start coming over the border.

            Then, not so much.

            I agree, we profited unjustly from historical stuff that was well beyond our control. The white man has a lot to answer for, but this one… eh, we didn’t know we were gleaming the cube at the time.

          • PC,

            But we’re asking folks to relegate themselves to lives of poverty now for what, exactly? What do they gain by curbing pollution? It’s not like in 30 years when the sea levels fail to rise that we are going to share in our prosperity. They’ll still be poor. If you gave me the choice of improving my life today and maybe reaping repercussions decades from now OR living a consistently poor life for the rest of my time, I’d opt for the former.

            As I discussed in the nuclear thread, there are a lot of things that America and other western nations did to establish their esteemed, privileged place in the world, which we now insist other countries trying to play catch up must never, ever do. That is almost the definition of being an entitled dick.

      • We really have a lot better technology at our disposal than what we have implemented.
        When the processes become more normalized, the concept of building out-of-date generators will not be so attractive.
        That’s what I’m thinking.

      • One of the (many) ways I have found to start arguments about energy supplies is to suggest the following: China and Japan together hold about $2.3T in US Treasuries; the two things that we have that we know they are going to want to import in the future are coal and natural gas; if we really intend to honor our debts, it might be a good idea for the US to get as green as possible as quickly as possible because we’ll need to sell coal/NG to the Far East instead of using it ourselves.

    • i feel like i don’t understand the british healthcare system well enough (and may also still be asleep) to get what’s going on in that article, because i read it and my first response is “the healthcare providing system doesn’t have access to individual healthcare records in some manner?”

      or is this supplemental material above and beyond conditions and treatments that was previously off limits? does the nhs have a hipaa-style law that restricts transmission of something like bmi, for example?

  7. B6: I always like regional jets, because *no* middle seats (and sometimes that solo seat on one side) My favorite route when I used to travel extensively normally utilized a regional jet where you gate checked larger carryons and then picked them up on the tarmac on the way out. Fastest I ever got in and out of the plane and the airport. (regional jets also typically had the younger flight attendants, but I no longer notice such things)

    Even though they say others do it, I honestly can’t see the practical mechanism for charging for carry-ons. (not w/ the ‘purse’/backpack/laptop bag exception that’s in place now). As for self service, I actually wouldn’t mind getting rid of most in-flight beverage service and allowing people to get up and get it themselves. Don’t know if that would pass safety regulation muster.

    B5: “We need to use less energy!” sez the guy making a living by posting articles on the internets, when he’s not printing dead tree books. (which are *not* available on Kindle or in audio form)

    B7: I was under the impression (possibly mistaken) that Australia had the China (import) coal market sewn up.

    L4: The collection of states that allow men to change their name is possibly more eclectic than anything Monday trivia has ever come up with.

    • B6: If you were as tall as I am, you would not like regional jets. I was under the impression that the charges would be for anything larger than a purse or laptop. Basically, instead of one bag and one personal item, you’d just get the latter.

      B5: Which is kinda the rub, isn’t it? Particularly with regard to developing economies (see Cain’s comment, which I will respond to after this one).

      B7: Australia would certainly be a better candidate than the US to sell them coal. Maybe Australia doesn’t produce enough.

      L4: I hate it when a great Monday Trivia question passes me by.

      • I’m probably as tall as you are. Also, I was never on a regional jet for more than about an hour.

        Maybe travel was just better 10 years ago (on either side of 9/11). My problem now is if I get a super duper saver fare, I’m stuck with a middle seat (which with my height and my current girth, is just awful) unless I pay for an upgrade to an ‘economy plus’ or the like (and someone, I forget who, is charging extra for merely a window or aisle seat).

        • I’m probably as tall as you are.

          Huh. Maybe it’s just my being stir-crazy then. I just hate the feeling of being in a place where I literally cannot stand upright at all. I mean, don’t they use that as a torture device in some places?

          I have been staying in a middle seat since I’ve been married, except of course on the Torture Planes. I’ve gotten used to that. The weight loss has been good for me in this regard, as I feel less guilty about cramming the people next to me (one of whom is the wife, of course).

        • I’m stuck with a middle seat (which with my height and my current girth, is just awful)

          Heh, I’ve sat in the aisle seat next to you quite a few times. Why didn’t you introduce yourself?

      • Flying more than usual recently, I got to thinking that charging for checked-bags MIGHT be counter-productive. Boarding and deplaning seem to take much longer when everyone has a large carryon and a personal item and all that jazz. How many human hours are lost waiting for everyone to get their crap down? More importantly, how does this impact plane turnaround time? I understand the weight/fuel cost issue, but I wonder if the gains in charging for checked bags are outdone by losses in efficiency and productivity elsewhere.

        • As far as I’m concerned, there is a much, much stronger case for charging carry-ons than checked luggage. In addition to how long it takes for everyone to get their crap down… security lines. We could serious cut back on security lines if people checked more bags. If I’m going on a short trip, I think it’s better for all involved if I *don’t* carry on the little suitcase with my clothes.

          • Oh yea! I forgot about security lines but that is another huge issue!

            What people don’t realize is that they’re going to get charged for checked luggage one way or another. Southwest touts “free checked luggage”. But what they really do is just fold the cost of luggage into everyone’s ticket. People get annoyed at having to pay extra fees, feeling as if they are getting nickled-and-dimed, but no one is going to give you things for free. Spirit Airlines goes the other way; they charge you for everything… blankets, counter service… EVERYTHING. But then you can choose exactly what services you want and avoid those you don’t. Of course, they aren’t exactly forthcoming with their business model, especially if you buy via a 3rd party site (e.g., Orbitz) where they use their pricing scheme to routinely post the lowest fares.

            But there are few things more frustrating that standing in line to board and watching some tiny woman or old man struggle down the gateway with two giant carry-ons that barely, if they do at all, qualify as such and take 5 minutes on each end of the trip to get them secured.

            I’d gladly pay $25 per bag if it didn’t mean having to arrive at the airport 90 minutes early and standing in endless lines multiple times. Unfortunately, that is only possible if everyone else does the same.

  8. T4: I was sitting here thinking about changing some passwords to Shoshone words (Sh’shoni?), but then I realized that I don’t know how to spell any of them.

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