Linky Friday #22


[H1] Infant mortality rates in the US are falling!

[H2] Limiting soda size may backfire.


[C1] These pictures of Hong Kong borg cubes are… beautiful. It’s funny that for a guy who lives in the country and was raised in the suburbs, I consider vertical density to be pretty conceptually awesome. Then again, it’s perhaps because I’ve never had to live in them that I can feel this way.

[C2] The interesting story of Kowloon Walled City, China. That just kind of blows my mind.

[C3] Documentary filmmakers on China’s ghost cities.

[C4] The interesting story of a man in China worried that his water supply might get cut off due to frigid temperatures, and how he accidentally created an ice waterfall.


[R1] Personally, I don’t think there’s enough collusion in newspaper paywalls. This is really only going to work itself out if they can work something out between themselves. A majority of the biggest newspapers now have paywalls.

[R2] Superman has turned 75. Superman’s age will start mattering to me when there is at least a remote chance that he will get turned over to the public domain. Anyway, Superman is in his seventies, but the seventies were really awkward for Superman.

[R3] Ugh. I have too many audiobooks as it is. Here are 500 more, for free!


[L1] If you want a bomb-sniffing dog to work faster, feed it fatty foods.

[L2] An interesting story of a man trying to rob banks who thinks he’s working for the CIA.

[L3] In Mississippi, a detective interrogating a suspect ended up shot dead by said suspect. In the interrogation room.

[L4] In Texas, a former Justice of the Peace (with his wife) was arrested for murdering a sheriff and a district attorney.


[B1] Samsung is trying to woo IT managers into buying their products. Isn’t that last decade’s strategy?

[B2] Hugh Langley says that despite the lackluster sales, the Chromebook is the future. I still don’t see it.

[B3] Workplaces are not keeping up with norms with regard to tattoos. I can’t say I’m sorry about this.

[B4] LDS missionaries are now allowed to email friends (and others).


[W1] Somoa Air is charging travelers by weight.

[W2] Everybody loves Sweden (mostly because they see what they want to see).

[W3] From Pinky, an interactive map of Mormons in America. I wish it had more tiers, but it’s pretty cool.

[W4] Mark Zuckerberg supports immigration reform that would benefit Mark Zuckerberg. Not disagreeing, necessarily. Just sayin’.


[E1] There are some efforts underway to standardize online college standards.

[E2] There’s a proposal in West Virginia to make science fiction books part of the curriculum.

[E3] Robert Pondiscio makes the case for setting really low national education standards.

[E4] Do we want teachers and professors to know if you’ve been doing your ereading?

Will Truman

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


  1. C2 – I’ve been meaning to go visit the site of the Kowloon Walled City someday, I always forget to plan a visit when I am over.
    A lot of the Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui portions of Kowloon are so dense they seem reminscent of the pictures until you look at the stats and see that KWC was nearly 10 times as dense.

  2. Kowloon Walled City was in Hong Kong, Kowloon being the southern tip of the peninsula north of Hong Kong Island, and one of the three parts of the Hong Kong SAR. Hong Kong is technically part of China, but at the time it was part of the British Empire.

      • I don’t know whether it’s as sensitive an issue as Taiwanese independence is. I would imagine that Chinese control is a sore point for a lot of residents of Hong Kong, but I wouldn’t think that many would get offended by simply acknowledging the fact that Hong Kong is officially part of the PRC. I just pointed it out because I don’t think many people know that Kowloon is in Hong Kong.

        • Not that I speak to anything resembling a representative sample, but the HK natives I spoke to on my last trip seemed quite dismayed at the creeping control of the government by Beijing.
          They’re even more dismayed at how the mainland culture is seeping in, I didn’t go so far as to ask what they’d prefer to happen but it was clearly on their minds.

    • From what I understand, KWC was claimed by the PRC and basically left alone up until it was demolished. But, since HK is China now, it’s all the same to me.

      • Oh, you’re right. It remained a Chinese enclave even while Britain controlled the rest of Hong Kong. I hadn’t known about that.

  3. H2- I’m not a fan of bucket’o’soda bans. It seems like soda bucket bans are now the primary driver of articles about obesity, policy and health care. Crimany, they came up in one city and didn’t even go through. Miss. has passed a law, ” the anti-bloomberg” law making it illegal for towns to write laws about portion sizes. There have been more anti-B laws put in effect than soda bans.

    • Well, when the whole thing came out, there were two main questions. First, whether or not this is was an appropriate thing for the government to do. Second, whether or not it would work. For me, it was always the second thing that interested me most. I would fully prepared to take “the loss of freedom” (I’m a smoker; I’m used to it), but I was skeptical of its efficacy. Others, meanwhile, said “But science!”. So, a study that suggests it wouldn’t work is of significant interest.

      • I think it was always questionable whether it would or could have any large effect given it is one beverage of many and only one of many things people stuff in their pie hole. It seems more like the soda ban is taking a super size portion of all debate about obesity, health and policy.

        • well, part of that is that it’s a simple up/down vote kinda issue. it’s simple to understand, easy to argue about, etc etc etc. meaningless in the extreme but such is politics.

  4. Have you seen the movie “Best Two Years”? It’s a family film, a “Mormon Missionary Comedy”. It’s about as treacly as you might expect (more treacly than others might expect, though).

    If you’re in the mood for a movie that you can watch with the baby, this is definitely it.

    • Haven’t seen that one. Have seen “Latter Days” which is a Gay Mormon missionary love story. I don’t know that the movies have much in common, though, other than the missionary thing.

      • I have not. I will bug Maribou about it. (Best Two Years is by Mormons, for Mormons… specifically for 11th graders who can’t *WAIT* to go on their mission.)

        • Yeah, they have a whole cottage industry of Mormon flicks. I hadn’t heard of that one, oddly enough. I did see Brigham City, which wasn’t bad (actually, I was thinking of that movie the other day because of Boston and the house-to-house searches there) and has one of the best tag lines ever (“Nothing attracts a serpent like paradise”).

          LD is basically a Mormon writer asking himself “What if the closeted gay me who went on a Mormon missionary met the Hollywood gay person that I became?” So… not LDS approved.

  5. C1 – Hong Kong is seriously some Blade-Runner-looking stuff when you are there. That urban density, hi-tech and poor crammed all cheek-to-jowl, is captured well by those photos.

    You can also see in the photos, for the buildings that are under construction, that they still use bamboo scaffolding due to its light weight, high tensile strength and low cost.

    It’s a little incongruous somehow to see modern glass and concrete skyscrapers being erected, with bamboo scaffolding surrounding them.

  6. B3: I am generally very pro-employee rights but for stuff like workplace attire and tattoos, I become a bit more pro-employer.

    I don’t think businesses should be allowed to require women to wear skirts or makeup. I think it is a sign of confidence that businesses (including professional ones) can let employees wear jeans and a nice shirt and feel like they can do their jobs well. However, if an employer wants no jeans and does not want employees to have visible tattoos that is good for them.

    Company culture/fit is an interesting phenomenon. I’ve heard stories about how if you go to interviews at a tech company in something more than jeans and a nice shirt, you will not be hired because the formal look is too uptight.

    • I was told flat out, repeatedly, not to wear a tie when I interviewed with the large software company in the Pacific Northwest. Seriously, they mentioned it like six times. Which is good, because if they’d only mentioned it twice, I might have worn a tie.

      I still wore slacks and a patterned (Walmart) button shirt. Which was okay, because one of the interviewers was wearing the same. The other two were wearing t-shirt and jeans (one with jeans with a hole in the knee).

      • I wonder how a lawyer is supposed to dress for an in-house interview at a place like that.

        • I’d wear a suit anyway. Prove that you own one. Prove that you take the process seriously. Prove that you don’t assume that you’ve got the job. Prove that you can project yourself as a professional. If you later get told, “Hey, you should leave the suit at home,” that’s one thing. But until you get that instruction (and “Hey, you can leave the suit at home” is not the same instruction as “Hey, you should leave the suit at home”), I say, suit up, counselor.

          • I would only fail to dress up if I was expressly told not to. But, I would not ignore what the employment agency who set everything up says. At least, not after the third time…

          • All you’ve proven there is:

            1) You’re not the right fit for the company culture and
            2) You can’t follow simple directions.

            Seriously, if you can’t take a not-subtle hint of “We have a relaxed dress code here, don’t wear a tie to the interview, you’ll look totally out of place” you’re really not gonna fit there.

            What you say when you wear a suit to such a meeting is “I’m better than you, I think your dress policies are stupid, and I have no intention of fitting in”.

            In which case, not hiring you is an excellent choice unless you’re so good that the inevietable culture conflict and interpersonal strife is worth it. Which is probably isn’t, because few people are that good at a job that’s needed to be filled that badly.

          • Notice the use of the imperative tense. “[D]on’t wear a tie to the interview.” = “Hey, you should leave the suit at home.” That’s an instruction about how to dress.

            The question is what to do if there is no such instruction. And if you’re holding yourself out as a professional, then there is a standard of dress which prevails and it involves the jacket and pants (or skirts for the ladies) being cut from the same material.

      • The “we don’t have a stuffy dress code so we won’t hire you if you don’t dress the way we do”, seems to be remarkably missing the point of not having a dress code.

        • Actually, I dare someone to show up with cape, tophat, and cane (plus monocle!) to one of these interviews. Double dog dare you.

          • And at the LOoG of course. Or is that new since you joined?

          • We had a guy interview at Falstaff who put his website on the resume. When we saw the website, which talked about ninjas and pirates and how to do a crossover between DC Comics and Pirates of the Caribbean, we thought “Either this guy is awesome and will be a perfect fit” or “This guys is clueless and unprofessional.”

            (I should note, the website was based on a template, so it wasn’t showing off mad web-coding skillz.)

            It turned out he was clueless. I actually wrote a post on it on Hit Coffee, but can’t find it.

          • Reason doesn’t care about dress codes…they can sense the philosophical purity of a person.

    • Newdealer,
      That depends on your formal look.
      My suit looks somewhere between “secret service/military” and “boy’s school.”
      It suits my style, which is the really important part
      (that, and actually having a style — be memorable is the first thing).

        • I’m sure you look better in them than I would!
          (actually, wearing suspenders would be a /truly/ awful look on me — they’d frame my bosom, and that would be awfully inappropriate.)

      • Dress to be comfortable, and you’ll be more productive. (If for you that’s a suit, fine.) Demonstrate that your value is in your ability, not your clothing. Or, as Jerry Seinfeld put it:

        “He must know what he’s talking about. His jacket matches his pants. “

      • They say ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’

        That’s why I go to work dressed like Huggy Bear.

        • From what I’ve been told (and it’s generally worked well for me), that “dress for the job you want” is good advice for the interview. Dress well, but dress for the job you’re interviewing for. So if you want to be a lawyer, wear a suit. If you want to be a coder, don’t. The kind of retail where everyone’s wearing the company polo shirt? wear a polo shirt. The kind of retail where everyone’s wearing something trendy? wear something trendy. etc.

      • I agree with you on wearing a suit to an interview and I generally don’t mind wearing one but I think there is nothing wrong with jeans, a nice shirt, and a shoes in an office if you don’t have court that day.

        • When you do what I do, you never know when you’re going to get called in to court or have a client just pop by unannounced.

          Come to think of it, if you’re interested in doing what I do, send me an e-mail privately.

          • Heck in the US you never know when you might have to hold a press conference for 30 reporters on your front lawn. We should all wear suits all the time just in case.

          • Like clean underwear, in case you’re in a car accident.

          • That is why i always wear ” I Love Paramedics” boxers.

          • Though come to think of it, you could probably do a whole study on work attire based on geography and possibly industry.

            For the most part, San Francisco-Bay Area is business casual in most places. There are still firms that require lawyers to wear suits. Quinn Emmanuel (a huge corporate firm) allegedly is jeans and a t-shirt but be “court ready” as their requirement.

            I imagine the East Coast is still more formal in work attire than the San Francisco.

    • Argh, I had a response to this, but it disappeared. I know I’m in a small minority in how I feel on the matter and am not likely to change minds nor have my own changed, so just suffice to say that this non-tattooed person is uncomfortable with such restrictions and leave it at that.


  7. [B4] LDS missionaries are now allowed to email friends (and others).

    But with pretty severe restrictions in time and kind of use. It looks like Charles Wang get bored with the Islanders and started running the Mormon missionary program.

    [W1] Samoa Air is charging travelers by weight.

    Don’t act like you’re better than I am, you had the same first thought I did.

    [E2] There’s a proposal in West Virginia to make science fiction books part of the curriculum

    The proposer specifically means STEM-y SF (what used to be called “hard” SF.) He mentions Verne and Asimov (good for him!) but the Hal Clement stories that are basically fictionalized physics problems would fit too. How about a project to prove that the Ringword is unstable?

      • I think Samoan’s already know they tend to have large frames and quite a bit of obesity.

        You want to see different ethnicity stand out look at a HS with many Samoan and Hmong kids. Somoan’s tend to be large and Hmong thin and smaller. Kids of the same age don’t look like they even belong at the same school.

  8. R1 — I’ve been thinking about writing a small piece of software to act as a proxy for me and a few friends so that we can split the costs of the subscriptions. Fundamentally, this is a technology fight that the newspapers can’t win. They either put up a real paywall (a la the WSJ), or they accept a significant amount of piracy.

  9. The actual most amazing thing about L2 is that the cops confronted a man holding an object (a TV remote control) that the cops initially thought might have been a gun , and yet the man ended the day with the same number of holes in him as he started out with.

  10. Man, Mormon missions…

    I think the whole point is to make those poor kids feel miserable for a year so they’ll decide the outside world is a horrible place and vow never to leave Utah again.

    I mean, look at what goes on. These kids are fresh out of high school, and given only the most basic training in how to talk to other about god. Then they’re sent to knock on the doors of non-believing strangers to preach a religious belief from a script written for believers, preach naively held wisdom untested by actual life experience.

    From the point of view of the stranger, you’re being disturbed during your day off so an idiot can babble to you about his God. I think in most cases, the stranger will respond with a curt “fish off”, with the occasional kind stranger who listens only out of politeness and offers them a beverage that they’re not allowed to drink.

    That, for two years. You’re not allowed any friends except the other guys you’re on your mission with. Limited contact with even your Mormon friends and family from home.

    It’s not really about converting the non-believers, it’s about convincing the missionaries. It’s saying “Look, the rest of the world hates your or doesn’t understand you. The only friends you have in this world are your fellow Mormons.” It’s sick.

  11. H1: So if the reason the US has higher infant mortality than Europe is because of the flaws in our health care system, does this mean that our health care system got better from 2005-2011?

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