Linky Friday #25


[F1] How motherhood is changing.

[F2] Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has taken a lot of bad publicity for her “family-unfriendly” anti-telecommuting policy, but according to Nanette Fondas, her paternity leave policy is revolutionary.

[F3] Sean Reardon writes about the growing gap in student achievement across classes. While Reardon blames the ability of wealthy parents, Megan McArdle thinks that it has more to do with assortive mating.


[M1] Gregory Ferenstein pushes back against the notion that there isn’t a tech-talent shortage.

[M2] Sam Ro makes the case that there’s more college graduate unemployment than we think.

[M3] Contrary to popular belief, you can’t actually be too rich. I am less clear on how much of that is absolute, and how much of it comparative.

[M4] There interesting story of how a couple people scammed eBay’s affiliate program for $28,000,000.

[M5] I go back and forth on how to feel about lowering homeownership rates. On the one hand, renting equals greater mobility, which has economic efficiency. On the other hand, home ownership has cultural advantages, and I am conceptually uncomfortable with a more firm owner/rental class dynamic.

Intellectual Property:

[IP1] Tor books says that getting rid of DRM didn’t hurt their business.

[IP2] Adobe is abandoning the software-purchase model for Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.). Few companies (other than Microsoft, of course) have dealt with piracy to the extent that Adobe has with its Creative Suite. This model makes sense. It’s not good for consumers, but this could easily be seen as a “reap what you sow” thing.

[IP3] A proposal to allow the unlocking of cell phones may give us our stuff in other ways, too.

[IP4] 3D Printers stand to wreak havoc with product piracy. It’s already started.


[E1] Government and oil firms are not actually acting like climate change is a problem.

[E2] There is apparently a push to start mining the Grand Canyon for Uranium.

[E3] Apparently, song and dance aside, the Obama camp has more-or-less never really opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline.

[E4] Natural gas, a better ecological solution than previously believed? Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins argues that whether we run out of fossil fuels or not, we’re paying too steep a price for it.

[E5] Prince Harry thinks windmills are an eyesore. I’ve heard others suggest it, though it’s just odd to me, cause I think windmills look awesome.


[T1] Rosa Golijan makes the case for establishing Google Glass etiquette.

[T2] Google Chairman Eric Schmidt is sticking with Blackberry. If only Android made an adult phone, too.

[T3] If we let them, cell phones can revolutionize the data that policy-makers can get. There is a trust problem, though.

[T4] Facebook is losing users. Alas, I don’t think it’s because Google+ is going to come out on top. But I’m a-hopin’.


[T1] With all the talk of how the Republicans need to try to capture the Hispanic vote, overlooked is how much more ground they could make more easily either by returning to the previous baseline with black voters, or marginal increases among white voters.

[T2] The Millenials are not any less polarized than the rest of us. The Brits have their own problems, in this regard.

[T3] State and local governments get better ratings than national governments. Which makes sense, being that state governments tend to be closer and more in-line with views of the average citizen, but is also kind of funny, when you think about it, because states often have to make the tougher decisions that the federal government can more easily avoid.

[T4] Will there be a civil war over in the GOP climate change? I am actually a bit skeptical because I think public conviction on the issue is significantly overestimated. The combination of AGW-skepticism and evolution does make an uncomfortable trend for a lot of voters, though, who might be willing to overlook one or the other.

[T5] If you’re going to take a swing at a politician, don’t miss.


[H1] Sextortion and poker. There’s a killer pun in there somewhere.

[H2] The interesting story of a woman who lives in a much, much more colorful world that we do. (Note: It’s not about Kimmi.)

[H3] I wrote a while back on a Tulane student athlete that only went to Tulane because his mother made him. While not ideal, Tulane will take what it can get. Florida State, though, is another matter.

[H4] Switzerland (?!) is getting tough in immigration.

[H5] It’s interesting the various semantic decisions that the press makes. Rather suddenly, Muhammad became Prophet Muhammad. My guess is that it has to do with the commonality of Muhammad as a name. If Jesus were common here, they’d probably make more of an effort to add “Christ” when referring to Jesus Christ.

Will Truman

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


  1. T4- Maybe over the next 30 years these will be a major split in the R’s over GW. It will take a complete generational turnover for that to happen. As todays 20 somethings get power and influence in their 40’s and 50’s then the R’s will change. Of course it will likely be far to late to mitigate much of the damage of GW by then. It will be more just riding it out the best they can.

    H1- Crimany most crooks are so rock stupid. The guy emailed about how fun it was to extort people….facepalm.

    T3- People know far less about that their state and local govs due often so they don’t get how pissed they should be.

    • T4 – My guess is that 30 years from now, if all goes according to projection, it’ll basically be the “We need to adapt to it” stance from one side, and the “We need to make sacrifices and try to reverse this or prevent it from getting worse” stance from the other. (Barring something wacky, it’s reasonable to assume which side will be which.)

      T3 – Maybe. I tend to think that one of the reasons for dissatisfaction with the federal government, though, is the participation of very different-minded states and parts of the country. You have variation within states, of course, but it’s not quite the same.

      • Akin to some of the people who preach austerity economics now as a kind of penance for our profligate ways there will be those preaching suffering and sacrifice to make things better. Those will largely be those on the left now and right wingers who saw the light and moved over to the AGW side. Converts are always the harshest. If the projections hold in 30 years it will be to late to do much mitigation for the next few decades, it will be all about adaption.

  2. F3: I think that it is probably a combination of the two. Yes the upper-middle class and above can spend more money on educational and enrichment programs for their children. My parents did this when the college arms race was not as bad. Part of it is cultural as well.

    My parents sincerely thought it would be better for me to go take college courses during the summer or do arts programs than work in an ice cream parlor or mow lawns. They also had the financial ability to make this happen. I also took an SAT prep course.

    There are still plenty of “stupid sons of the rich”. My law school is connected to a university where the undergrad school has a reputation for taking rich kids with less than stellar academic records. Until 15 years ago or so, USC had a similar reputation.

    Assortive mating does happen and it might be a problem but I am not sure what the solution is to assortive mating. I’m not really an “opposites attract” kind of guy. I think the best couples have a lot of overlapping or identical values, tastes, etc. It does not need to be perfect but it does help.

    People with similar socio-economic and educational backgrounds are more likely to want to raise children in the same way and with the same expectations. I’ve read stuff about how the hardest thing about class is not getting used to more or less money but to adjust to the cultural mores of your new class. Kazzy writes about this when he describes the educational philosophy of his school. The more socio-economically advantaged parents accept the play-learning philosophy at face value. He said the poorer parents who scrounge are the ones who reject and get angry at the play-learning philosophy.

    What is the solution to assortive mating if it is a real problem?

    M5: I think this is one of the great contradictions in the American economy. We fret about how young people are not buying homes and cars because those two purchases are great pieces of fuel for our economic engine. However, other experts say that people need to move more to take jobs and such. People who own houses are not likely to move for new jobs. There are also a lot of other reasons why people are not willing to move. I’ve considered writing an essay about this for the league.

    • ND, to the extent to which it is assortive mating, I think it’s likely unsolvable. Almost certainly unsolvable by government action. That doesn’t mean it’s not a problem, if one is concerned about inequality (social, economic, or otherwise).

    • People who own houses are not likely to move for new jobs. There are also a lot of other reasons why people are not willing to move.

      I’ve moved across the country to take a new job despite owning a home. I’ve turned down jobs because it meant moving. There are lots of reasons people are willing and/or not willing to move for a job. I will remark that being a home owner and having paid off the mortgage worked out really well when the Giant Corporation, where I ended up employed after a series of mergers and acquisitions, decided that I was one of the people whose services would not be required. It gave me an opportunity to go back to school and do some really different things that I probably wouldn’t have tried if I had still had the $900/month mortgage payment.

      • We are so, so very glad that we didn’t buy a house here in Callie. Not coincidentally, the signing bonus is almost the exact right amount for a down payment. We actually wonder if some of the maltreatment she has endured despite the fact that she was really needed here was a miscalculation that we couldn’t afford to leave. The other doctor, who signed on the same time that Clancy did (Dr. Alvarez), still hasn’t left despite the fact that Dr. A isn’t working. They bought their house. Had it built, actually.

  3. T4: Any revanchist climate change-denial faction in the political arena gives a lot of cover to those across the political spectrum that believe in climate change, and believe that something should be done about it, but know they’re going to be tossed out on their keisters if they implement something that has any visible cost.

    (otoh, if O’Malley’s political fortunes are buoyed by his gas tax increase, maybe the issue isn’t such krytonite after all)

    • Interesting study here (PDF) about whether or not the science is settled. Jeff Masters has a nice summary graph. Some polls suggest that as much as 50% of the US adult population believes that scientists haven’t reached a consensus on whether climate change is occurring, and whether it’s human-caused. In the peer-reviewed climate literature, it’s not just a consensus, it’s an overwhelming consensus. Someone, whether the GOP or the media or whoever, is doing a terrific job of spreading the message that the scientists aren’t in broad agreement.

    • I think this is the real motivation behind the prominence of AGW denial. Politicians will seek out and promote “experts” who tell them things they want to hear.

  4. Genuine question: How much of the criticism/attention Mayer receieves is a function of A) being a woman who B) became a mother C) shortly after taking on the new role? Is that fair?

    • A lot of it. It’s a double-edged sword. She has bought a lot of attention to a company that people previously didn’t think that much about. Her superstar quality, not entirely divorced from the fact that she’s a female, is one of the reasons she was hired for a lot of money by a company going broke.

      (It’s not just being a woman, though. Meg Whitman didn’t get this kind of attention, nor did Carly Fiorna. Though both got more attention than their male counterparts.)

      • I find it interesting. And I really did mean those questions genuinely. I know who Yahoo’s CEO is. I know their telecommuting policy. I know their maternity policy. But I don’t care about Yahoo. Yet I know all these things, which I don’t jnow about any other company (Tim Cook might bethe only CEO’s name I can pull off the top of my head and I just saw a talk on him. Is Gates still a CEO?). That stands out to me. In a good, bad, and other way.

        • The telecommuting policy would have gotten some publicity either way. The coverage of it would have been different, though, and less attention probably would have been drawn to it.

          But for good and for ill, that she is a telegenic woman who was pregnant when she took the job, made an impact.

  5. E5: There are different types of windmills.
    I grew up in a part of the country with a lot of windmills. Most of these were installed to pump water, and only maybe 20% (a generous estimate) still work. You can’t rely on a windmill to lead you to water, unless you know that area, and that windmill.
    In Northern Illinois, there are a couple of really huge windfarms. I don’t care for them. I’ve been stuck behind the trucks on I-80 west of Des Moines carrying a blade for one of those things. I’m still not sure if the maintenance outweighs the generating capacity. I expect peoples’ views to be more colored by political bent than data on that end.
    In Indiana, I saw a very different type of windmill. These are much smaller point-of-use windmills. They have tall blades that sit vertical to a pole, and spin very fast. I like those a lot better. But I have no data for comparison.

  6. M1: Actually, it looks like he’s saying there’s always a shortage of A PARTICULAR KIND of tech worker: economy boosting entrepreneurs. He’s not claiming that there’s a shortage of STEM people looking for conventional careers. He argues around the margin, some, but really his point is consistent with the other article you linked to, and the visas for entrepreneurs are an example of what I meant by looking beyond the H1B visa when it comes to deciding what immigrants we want to admit.

    • Start your own business/become an entrepreneur is some of the worst job advice out there.

      It largely ignores the simple facts of reality that people need to eat, rent needs to be paid, and it takes a long time before someone can earn some cash from a business. Most businesses do not earn a profit for their first few years of existence. Plus the amount of capital upfront can be staggering and most people simply do not have it.

      • So it’s a difficult job that no one in their right mind would want: just the kind of work we need to import immigrants to do!

    • If what they want is more entrepreneurs, the best policy thing they could do is single-payer health care funded out of income taxes. I’ve known several people with good ideas who were interested in putting in the hard work to try to build a business around them, but when they looked at the cash flow, the cost of health insurance for their family did in the plan. The opportunity to have good insurance now at a low price, and pay more later if the business was successful, would help. To a considerable degree, the argument is that we should import young people without families to start businesses, rather than figuring out how to make entrepreneurial risks more affordable for anyone who has a good idea.

    • He talks a lot about entrepreneurship, but he doesn’t stop there. He has problems with the way that they are doled out, but seems to support bringing over more peons, too, because the local talent isn’t good enough (see Zynga quote).

      • Well, that’s true. And his point when he’s doing so isn’t very coherent. He seems to be saying that they want exceptionally good workers, but “startups may not be able to pay foreign workers more; rather, they’ll just wait months to the perfect fit”. So, they “want” high quality workers. But they’re not willing to pay more for them. Which, as is the point of the original article, is not actually a sign of a shortage.

  7. E5: I live within several miles of NREL’s wind test facility, so frequently see their turbines. A handful of them, particularly from a distance, look kind of majestic. Driving through the Smoky Hills complex in Kansas is quite different: just under 300 turbines strung out along 24 miles of I-70, maximum total output is about 450 MW. Some of the turbines are (by my estimate) within about 300 yards of the highway. The general feeling there was more like some of the heavy industrial stretches along the NJ Turnpike.

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