Linky Friday #30



[V1] How monogamy became normal.

[V1] Americans are becoming less religious, while lamenting the fact that we’re becoming less religious. Here’s a map of the world’s atheists.

[V2] David Freedman thinks we might be able to tackle obesity by embracing junk food. Tom Philpott disagrees. Long, but RECOMMENDED!

[V3] I can’t say I’m sorry that this guy is off the street, but… entrapment? I know, it’s not entrapment if it’s not the police that do it. But it still makes me uncomfortable.

[V4] Honestly, I have no objection that news media has my side’s back on the gay marriage debate. But it should be acknowledged that it has been taking sides for quite some time.

[V5] It’s nice to know that gay weddings can be the backdrop of stupid-arse drama, just as straight weddings can.


[B1] Hit Coffee favorite Jordan Weissman has a series going on unpaid internships. It turns out they really don’t help you land a regular job, and they are actually the province not of the rich, but of the poor and middle class. RECOMMENDED!

[B2] Derek Thompson says that credit cards are making us dumber, fatter, and poorer.

[B3] The Atlantic also has a good piece on the SkyMall, and The Verge has an article on its darker side. I look at it pretty regularly during take-off and landing, making me wonder if they’re worried about recent happenings with the FAA.

[B4] From a business perspective, McDonalds is pretty awesome.

[B5] Matt Yglesias and others – including myself – have talked about how it’s important to finish college if you go. Well, maybe it’s advantageous to go even if you’re going to drop out. I’m not sure how you disaggregate for the self-selection, though. And there’s the collective action aspect of it.


[E1] The Harlem Globetrotters are up for sale. I have some fond memories of those guys.

[E2] It seems highly unlikely that eBook prices will actually be able to stay where they are, however much the publishers wish otherwise.

[E3] How science should influence science fiction, when it comes to exoplanets. Planets that shouldn’t exist come with their own plots!


[S1] In Colorado, a district is breaking from custom and will pay science teachers more than English teachers.

[S2] As I’ve said before, if you’re a doctor, and you’ve been sued, you’ve already lost.

[S3] According to Dan Munro, healthcare pricing transparency is gaining momentum.

[S4] Facebook can give you a self-esteem boost.

[S5] Carbon dioxide emissions aren’t just attributed to causing global warming, but global greening as well. RECOMMENDED!


[A1] Ilya Shapiro of Cato draws out attention to a weird scandal involving foreign knights.

[A2] Jon Last writes about how family formation delivers political results for the GOP. The problem is that he’s looking at 2000, when I’m not sure how much the results hold up in 2012.

[A3] Stuart Stevens has some very intelligent things to say on the immigration front for the Republican Party, which is pretty much getting bad advice from everyone right now. RECOMMENDED!

[A4] CIA agents explain what they would do if they were Edward Snowden, and on the run. RECOMMENDED!

[A5] John McCain should be honored that the Chinese found hacking his campaign to be worth their time.

[A6] The EIA has declared that we have more oil and gas than we thought we did and
natural gas and renewables are complimenting one another in Texas.


[W1] Mongolia is trying to go green, with mixed results.

[W2] All is not well – though all is not lost – in the Australian economy.

[W3] You know, I hadn’t thought about it, but when mentioning someone from the UK that isn’t Anglo, I have almost always favored the term “British” over “English.” Apparently, so do Bangladeshis.

[W4] Photos of famous landmarks… under construction.

[W5] Be careful what we wish for. In Sweden, parental leave may be contributing to the gender gap.

[W6] Charter cities have had a breakthrough in Honduras.

[W7] McArdle wonders if those leaving the European periphery will indeed return home.

Will Truman

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


  1. Death by food? Like death by cigarettes, we are impoverished by privacy laws.
    Do I really need to point to the breast cancer epidemic?

    • “The fact is, there is simply no clear, credible evidence that any aspect of food processing or storage makes a food uniquely unhealthy.”

      He’s missing a couple words: “peer-reviewed” “publically available”.

      • ” from added vitamins that are chemically synthesized, which must be bad for us because, well, they’re chemically synthesized. ”
        Chemically synthesized vitamins (as well as supplements in general) have different absorption than stuff that is organically synthesized.
        Note that the world health organization’s “how much calcium” is about a quarter of American standards.

        • “A slew of start-ups are trying to find ways of producing fresh, local, unprocessed meals quickly and at lower cost. But could this food eventually be sold as cheaply, conveniently, and ubiquitously as today’s junky fast food?”

          Yup. Try movie-theater popcorn. That’s about as unprocessed as you can get, it works volumetrically to make you full… And everyone loves it.

  2. [A4] Article not instantly up-to-date, as I thought Snowden was in Moscow, but whatever with that. Is setting up a fake identity using the birth certificate of someone who was born about the same time as you really that easy? You need to come up with some other things, like driver’s licenses and assembling a credit history, and for that you need a SSN, and the registry of dead peoples’ SSN’s being readily searchable, it would be child’s play to find people using those to create fake credit histories. And Snowden in 29, so he’d need a fake alias of someone who had been born in or around 1984. Had that person lived, he’d have got a driver’s license in the early 1990’s. In the movies hacking in to such systems is accomplished with relative frequency — but this ain’t a movie; in the 1990’s, only a few states had electronic records for ID’s. I know that fake identity documents can be bought, but those are usually sold to people looking for ways to get short-term work, so they don’t need to be particularly credible or hold up to more than an initial level of scrutiny. Snowden would need something better.

    Oh, and the CIA disguise expert is… worth further investigation. That’s something just like the movies. “You called for backup?” “Yes. Yes I did.”

    • A4 brings to mind the old saying “those that know, don’t say, and those that say, don’t know”

      • I mean, ffs, Iceland probably has better English proficiency than Waipahu.

  3. V2- Good article. Really covered a lot of sensibe ground. Whiel i eat healthy i have always disliked the snobby term “real food.” Food is food, none is more or less real. There are so many moving parts to discuss when we talk about obesity almost everybody can get one or two right whiel missing so many others. There is nothing inherently wrong with processing food and making them the enemy is a losing proposition. Few of us can live by farmers markets and Whole Foods stores. For those that can great, but assuming everybody will shift their lifestyle to be like them is egoistical and pointless. But the reality is most processed food is pretty crappy because it is made to be that way. It is designed to be high fat, high calorie and engineered to create people eating by the bucket. I said it many times in the great 32oz soda debates, but change has to come first from the individual. When the person wants to change then we can hope they will have plentiful information, nutritionists, doctors etc to help them out. But until then everything else is just tinkering at the margins.

  4. [E2] I regularly find ebooks that cost more than the paperback version. This is ludicrousness and this cannot last.

    P.S. I always look forward to these. Thank you for them.

    • I see that to. Drives me slightly crazier. I never buy them if the ebook is more than print. I can wait for the price to drop.

    • I am still buying a fair amount of music in physical format because the digital download often costs more or as (or nearly as) much as a physical copy. With a physical copy I can rip a lossless file, leaf through the art, then give the original away or loan it or sell it (or keep it if it’s pretty and/or I have space).

      The price of digital downloads in general often still seems a bit high for some things – it needs to be substantially lower, to compensate for the loss of the physical object and the utility derived therefrom.

      • Glyph, have you ever seen this (it’s where the “this is ludicrousness and this cannot last” line comes from)? The full quote (he is guiding bus tours of Manhattan):

        If you look at the original maps of midtown Manhattan, even from the beginning of this century, Madison Avenue in front of you and in back of you, is not even on the map. This began as a service road for 5th Avenue, one block to the west. Fifth Avenue is Millionaire’s Row. It’s just aristocratic mansions. This is where the horse stables are; this is where the gardener’s shacks are, not that long ago. Madison Avenue — not even a boulevard until the automobile takes over the island. Will you look at it today? May I re-state, recapitulate, and generally regurgitate, when you are sitting in the middle of midtown Manhattan, you are sitting amongst a 20th Century invention, a city that grew up in an explosion, as an explosion. It is an explosion, an experiment, a system of test tubes gurgling, boiling, out of control, radioactive atoms swirling. Civilization has never looked like this before. This is ludicrousness and this cannot last.

        [Takes his finger off the loudspeaker button… hesitates…]

        The new Ann Taylor store on the right.

        Now that I think about it, this film needs to be an MD post.

        • his is ludicrousness and this cannot last

          Unfortunately the conclusion does not follow from the premise. But it’s amazing how many people make that argument anyway.

    • Thanks, Chris. These things take more work than they might appear to, so I’m glad they are appreciated.

    • This is especially true if the ebook is an academic history or something from a university publisher. Which is a shame because I like academic history.

  5. The ‘global greening’ article sources CISRO. From sourcewatch:

    “he CSIRO has been criticised for a growing focus on making a profit, rather than on undertaking research. For example, in August 2006, the CSIRO has signed an agreement with Genetic Solutions, a Brisbane based-company, to become a shareholder in the company in exchange for its research into cattle genes. [1] The CSIRO has not traditionally held shares in companies.

    In addition, much CSIRO research is now funded by private enterprise, which has raised questions about corporate influence on the CSIRO’s previously independent research. For example, tn February 2007, the Canberra Times reported that “the CSIRO has confirmed coal industry bodies have the power to suppress a new report questioning the cost and efficiency of clean-coal carbon capture technologies because they partly funded the research”. [2]

    Until mid-July 2006, Donna Staunton was the Executive Director of Communications for CSIRO and is also a member of the Executive team. Staunton was previously a vice president of Phillip Morris, the chief executive of the Tobacco Institute of Australia, and sat on the board of conservative Australian think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). [3] The IPA has been a consistent critic of climate science, arguing that the link between increased greenhouse gas emissions and climate change has not been proven.”

  6. The “foreign knights” link has an extra “http://” on the end.

    And it’s a pretty ridiculous complaint, since this knighthood is a reward for meritorious service to society, like a Peabody. It doesn’t make him a foreign agent. Also, Shapiro seems not to understand that a knight isn’t part of the nobility.

    • It’s a pretty crap article for other reasons, starting with being wrong in a way that a quick glance at the VERY short Wikipedia article on that part of the Constitution would show.

      Congress basically decided it had better things to do than wade through each and every honorary award, knighthood or otherwise, bestowed on federal employees and just gave advance consent for a huge swathe of them. (5 USC 7342).

      5 USC 7342 is entitled “Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act”, btw. It’s on Wikipedia under “Congressional Authorization” on the article about that particular clause.

      This guy didn’t have to ask Congress. Congress consented to him taking the award decades ago.

      So, basically not looking at wikipedia or even taking 60 seconds to look it over strikes me as exactly the sort of dedicated scholarship I expect out of CATO.

      • Shapiro did say Madison was urning over in his grave. He just got the cause wrong.

        • lol. 🙂 Now maybe this guy doesn’t fall under that particular statute, but given it was a generic statute passed entirely so federal employees and appointees could accept powerless or honorary titles (ie: Those that come with no inherent wealth — land, money, whatnot — and without any actual authority, other than in a purely fraternal sense) without bothering Congress, it should probably be addressed.

          Basically the whole ‘scandal’ didn’t pass the most basic BS test — unless you assume the Obama administration is particularly venal or incompetent, to the point of screwing up basic procedure — procedure that would be ingrained in the basic bureaucracy of government — for something that’s been happening regularly since we started practicing diplomacy with the rest of the world.

  7. B3- I’ve always been sure they will eventually more electronics below/above 10000 feet. Why? Well they are letting pilots use ipads and people want it. And very often people do get what they want especially the more trivial stuff that irks people like ereaders during take off. The thing about the FAA is that is super safety conscious for what should be pretty obvious reasons. The aviation community in general is super safety and rule conscious which, along with strict regs by the FAA, accounts for air travel being safe. So of course they are molasses slow on this. That is what they do and also a large part of why flying is safe. As James Fallows has pointed out we have been doing an uncontrolled experiment for the last few years in what electronics do to planes since most people don’t’ turn them off completely. Nothing has been verified to have happened due to electronics. But it takes a while for that to filter through the process.

    • Well, there’s the proof about accents and whatnot. I come from The Land of People Who Speak Normally. That settles it the whole Pronunciation Nation debate. I win.

    • I hadn’t actually seen that, Burt. Thanks for sharing.

      They got Idaho wrong. Idaho is a meaningless word. Which is why Colorado isn’t named Idaho as it was briefly going to be (maybe I should write about that on a Western Wednesday).

  8. You must pay the commenting toll
    Be you regular, lurker or troll
    To be able to see
    What the comments will be
    It’s annoying, but that’s how we roll

  9. Silly woman, thinking that just because an adult with the right to vote and all, she has a right over her own body. Doesn’t she know that our government knows what is best for her?

  10. V3- that’s not really entrapment, even if the police did it. The To Catch A Predator stuff is something I’ve always been uncomfortable because there wasn’t any evidence of a pattern of activity, and it has always struck me as something that would probably be entrapment if the police did it.

    But in this case, it looks like the guy had a long history and the parents were just acting upon his established course of conduct. That would be a pretty ordinary law enforcement tactic if done by the police and would not be entrapment if done by the police either in the eyes of the courts or even in my committed civil libertarian eyes.

    • Mark, I’ll take your word on the legalities of the situation. Here was the part that jumped out at, and disturbed, me:

      After taking the daughter’s computer, the mother signed into her account and messaged Richards repeatedly, convincing him to go through the runaway plan the two had long talked about.

      They convinced him. Were it a matter of starting a conversation, flirting, and him bringing it up, I’d be more sympathetic. I actually thought I was going to like the story until I read that tidbit.

      In a way, this bothers me more than To Catch a Predator. At least, unless they’re doing the same thing. My impression of the show, and of such stings in general, is that they couldn’t try to convince someone to commit a crime, because in that case they’re inventing the crime. However, if they’re just “putting themselves out there” and a guy makes a pitch (“Hey, we should meet. I will treat you like a woman…”)… well I have less sympathy for the guy. Even if he has no history, he’s likely just waiting for a victim and the police are just getting to him before he lucks out and finds one.

      (Of course, this all sidesteps my more general concerns about statutory rape laws in general, but that’s a whole nother thing.)

      • The fact that it was the guy’s plan to begin with and the parent were just trying to make sure they were there when it took place makes me feel OK about the situation.

        • This. The crime seems to have already been committed. The convincing was mostly just to make sure he was where he was supposed to be so he could be apprehended.

          On the handful of episodes of TCAP that I saw, I will say that it seemed like they were not shy about doing a fair amount of convincing. I have a vague recollection that in some cases, the charges actually got dismissed, though I don’t recall whether they were due to entrapment or some other failure.

  11. S5: TTBOMK, no climate scientist has said that increased CO2 won’t increase plant growth, assuming all other ambient conditions remain the same. Greenhouse growers have used CO2 generators for years to increase growth rates, but also work like hell to maintain an appropriate temperature and humidity. Climate scientists assert that changes in the ambient conditions due to increased CO2 hurt plant growth: higher temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns on land, acidification of the oceans, etc. A couple less inches of “effective” precipitation in the southern parts of the wheat-growing areas in the US and wheat yields there plummet. Increase the frequency of extreme high temperatures by a few days per year in the US corn belt and yields decline a lot — corn “heat shock” is a heavily studied phenomenon. More CO2 may make trees in mountain forests in the western US grow faster, but warming has contributed to the spread of assorted bark beetles that have killed millions of acres of trees.

Comments are closed.