Linky Friday #31


[P1] Neuroscientific manipulation may be able to cure you of whatever thoughts society thinks ails you. Psychatric treatments may change personalities.

[P2] Android is a good operating system on phones and tablets, but I think its limitations would start becoming a lot more apparent when you put it on a computer.

[P3] Anna Weaver thinks we need to embrace Spam. Ted Genoways disagrees.

Jobs & Joblessness:

[J1] Too many heroes become dead heroes. In some situations, more would-be heroes are dying than those killed initially.

[J2] Joblessness kills. Which is why, if we ever reach a post-employment future, it can’t actually become a post-employment future. (Yes, they did control for the usual suspects.)

Energy & Environment:

[EE1] James Pethokoukis has some good ideas on how to reconcile climate change intervention with conservatism.

[EE2] The US Energy Secretary wants to find ways to capture carbon dioxide on the cheap. If anything will save us, it’ll be this.

[EE3] Gas prices might be lowered by molecule-sorting material.

[EE4] The natural gas boom has frustrated, somewhat, those that believe that we need to be focusing 100% on renewables. I have to confess, upon hearing that it’s undermining the nuclear renaissance, I felt a similar thing. Related: According to Tim Worstall, Fukushima killed no one.


[T1] The car-buying flow chart. It suggested a Ford C-Max to me.

[T2] Should we reconsider the laws against helmetless bike riding?

[T3] Jim Henry looks at the relationship between Hyundai and Kia and attempts to keep the identities different. The badging of identical cars is one of those things that, while I understand on one level, I will never really understand.

[T4] Google Street View catches the end of a relationship.

Entertainment & Culture:

[EC1] Apparently, used video games allow publishers to charge more for new ones.

[EC2] We may be able to watch sporting events in hologram. It’s an interesting concept, though I have mixed feelings on how fun that would be in practice.

[EC3] How superhero storytelling has infected movies and other entertainment. And not for the better.

[EC4] Mara Wilson has an insider’s prospective on why child stars go off the deep end.


[W1] Jon Last looks at nations worldwide and their attempts to boost birthrates.

[W2] The Christian Science Monitor on South Korea’s ascent.

[W3] The suburbanization of British Jews and Indians.

[W4] An interesting look at why China’s filmmakers hate Japan, and why it matters. Over 200 anti-Japanese films come out of China a year.

[W5] Hashima Island was once one of the most densely populated places on earth. Now, it’s abandoned. But Google has it covered.

World Education:

[WE1] Swedish college is free, but their students get out with almost as much student debt as our students do.

[WE2] Germany is exporting its dual-education system. I’d thought I’d read somewhere that they were moving away from that. Glad to hear that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Earth & Beyond:

[EB1] What happens when galaxies collide.

[EB2] A cool algorishm finds face-like structures on Earth’s surface.

[EB3] Here is what Pangea may have looked like, with modern national borders.

[EB4] Water from a Canadian mine appears to be over a billion years old.

Will Truman

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


  1. T2- Where are there mandatory helmet laws? I see people ride without them all the time. I’ve seen them riding without them when i was in Wash state a couple weeks ago.

    Okay so i used some initiative to googleize for a few minutes about helmet laws. What i found was that 21 states have mandatory helmet laws and that is just for people under 16 and/or kids. While i understand the paradox people have found i really wonder if it has any effect on kids. 10 year olds tend to care a bit less about their hair then adults. It is an odd paradox. Unless you are riding slow and easy helmets are much safer. I’ve had a few crashes on my bike and a helmet saved my from at the very least a concussion.

    • In Canada, BC, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island have made helmets mandatory for adults.

    • Based on personal experience, drivers view bicyclists as a nuisance. It’s as if they think bicycles shouldn’t be on the roads at all. I wish the helmet laws encompassed installing a rear view mirror.

    • greg, there are mandatory helmet laws in Canada, and the study on the effects of them was Canadian, so it’s possible it doesn’t transfer to the U.S. quite as well.

      Health professionals are starting to push back against helmet laws (at least for adults). A number of cities (Ottawa and Montreal, and I think Toronto, at least) have started up bike-share programs. The one in Ottawa seems to be quite successful. There are also a number of downtown hotels that will lend out bikes to their guests. This is where the issue of mandatory helmets gets tricky.

      Will people who want to try out the bike-share program go buy a helmet? Maybe, or maybe they’ll refrain from using it. Will tourists bring their helmets? Will they buy helmets? Do we want to punish tourists if they don’t know the helmet law?

      Health organizations worry that concerns over helmet laws will discourage people from these bike sharing programs, and the general consensus seems to be that the health threats from a sedentary life are worse than the threats of helmet-less biking.

      • Those are good points. There is a big difference in cruising around a city riding and exercise riding. Cruising bike position is much more upright so you go slower. I’ve brought a bike helmet with me to go mountain biking in Sedona but i know most/many people won’t do that. People certainly don’t want to rent helmets.

        I’m not a fan of helmet laws although i think riding without one is, for many uses, dumb. I see complaints about helmet laws here in the US as mostly silly “the gov is controlling our lives” grousing.

          • Oh we saw tons of jeeps, pink and otherwise. A few of them even looked like they knew how to drive on really rough difficult roads.

        • I personally have at best a “government controlling our lives” objection to helmet laws. Which is to say that I understand the argument, and if a sufficient number of people believe it to prevent a law from being passed, I’ll respect that. But my instinct is to favor helmet laws for the same reason I favor seat belt laws. On the other hand, the amount of counter-evidence I need to convince me otherwise (like the above article) is relatively minor.

          • I’d be okay with mandatory helmet laws for kids under 12-14, maybe even 16. After that people are pretty much free to crack their skulls open. The “we never had them when i was a kid and i survived” argument is mostly good for mocking and is said best in a crotchety John McCain/ Abe Simpson voice.

          • Yes, because if a majority of people think it’s ok to point guns at someone for that person’s own good, it’s alright.

            This is another example why the law is not persuasion, it’s violence.

          • Kazzy,
            u mean insurance companies?
            they’re the ones that push for stupid laws like this.

            folks want to blame big guvmint?
            Poking at the wrong enemy.

          • The insurance companies can’t pass the laws, though I would agree that their role should be getting more scrutiny.

          • I was joking, really. I don’t imagine their is much of a helmet lobby. But riffing on Big Anything is fun.

        • not a fan of helmet laws although i think riding without one is, for many uses, dumb.

          My friend refers to motorcyclists who ride without helmets “Temporary-Americans”.

          • I once overhead a friend who is a nurse at a party telling someone, “Yes, we have a medical term for motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets. We call them ‘organ donors’.”

          • There may be good reasons for the motorcycle helmet decision to be distinct from the bicycle helmet decision.

    • I’ve wondered that some states haven’t moved past helmets and on to other safety choices for those riding two-wheeled vehicles. A few weeks ago a scooter passed me, doing about 40 mph in the 35 mph zone, driven by a well-endowed young woman in her helmet, string bikini top, cut-offs, and flip-flops. She was probably a few years younger than my daughter. I don’t address comments to the deity (or deities) very often, but my reaction this time was, “Lord, please find a way to teach her the common sense she needs without wasting all of that skin on the asphalt.”

  2. EC4: I sometimes wonder whether I bear any blame when I watch a TV show or movie with child actors. I don’t get too concerned, however. Still, I think it’s useful for us to remember that it is child labor.

    • Isn’t the “failure” of helmet laws related to shifts in driver behavior around helmeted riders versus unhelmeted riders? I didn’t see it mentioned in the article (which I didn’t really follow… so maybe I did), but I read a story that said drivers tend to be safer around unhelmeted drivers out of concern for their safety than they are around helmeted ones.

      • The article notes that there are other factors that have a greater increase in rider safety, such as proper infrastructure (bike lanes, etc) and education programs (which probably includes educating drivers that they don’t, in fact, own the fucking road).

        I don’t think it mentioned driver response to helmeted vs. un-helmeted cyclists.

        • I hate to break this to you, but drivers DO “own the fucking road” for two reasons:

          1) There are more of them.

          2) You can’t repeal the laws of physics.

          • Treating people with respect and not running them off the sporking road aren’t actual laws of physics. Neither is sharing. I ride my bike and drive a car. I don’t “own” the road less when i ride my bike. My taxes still count.

          • Bike riders do exact revenge on their tormentors. I just take their licence plate number and call 911, reporting a 625 violation.

          • @greginak

            Physics comes into play more during the collision. If you are going to lose the battle of physics, that is on you.

            No one gives a shit about your taxes, but since you brought it up bicycle riders don’t pay gasoline taxes while motorists do. So much for your argument.


            Your post literally made me roll my eyes. You should be in prison for mis-use of the 911 system. Also, how many people have been convicted because of your phone calls?

          • Not half enough, Scarlet. Not half enough. You’ve never been run off the road, it seems. I have. Destroyed the front wheel of my bicycle and resulted in an ambulance ride and a dozen stitches. And it happened to one of my children, my son.

            The very fucking idea, that you would schoolmarm me about reckless drivers, well it’s amusing. You keep a civil tongue in your head.

          • AHHHH i see the confusion you are having. You seem to believe that is someone rides a bike then they don’t own a car. That would be what those of use who have bikes and cars call a laughable silly assumption. Just about all of us have both dude, is that really so hard to figure.

            Physics are hella cool and all, but that has nothing to do with being aggressive, threatening or attempting to hurt someone. The last confrontation i had while on my bike i was cruising along in a fricking bike path and some guy in a car slowed down to shake his fist at me and yell something. I was in bike path!!! Physics has nothing to do with being a jerk.

          • Civility is the watchword for disagreements ’round these parts. ScarletNumber, you’re pushing the envelope of it, and not for the first time under either this or your previous handles. Please dial it back a bit; your repartee and dialogue are welcome, but not your venom.

          • @Burt Likko

            Yawn. Give me a break. Someone has to point out that people are being silly. For an attorney, you sure are sensitive when people disagree.


            I would appreciate if you could answer my question.

          • Scarlet, disagreement is fine but you need to get in the habit of playing better with others around. What flies on Hit Coffee doesn’t necessarily fly here.

          • Physics comes into play more during the collision.

            Very true. So given their greater potential to inadvertently cause life-threatening damage, car drivers have a corresponding responsibility to be extra careful. Reinforcing the idea that they own the road teaches the opposite lesson, teaches a misunderstanding of the law, and encourages drivers to put themselves at enhanced risk of a sizable legal judgement against them.

            Now, that seems pretty silly to me.

      • I find it fairly hard to believe drivers really notice whether a cyclist is wearing a helmet since most drivers don’t seem to notice cyclists in the first place. If they do notice them some act out of anger that someone is pedaling instead of stamping on the gas while drinking coffee and talking on the phone.

        • Most drivers’ idea of Safe Interaction with Bicyclists is to honk the horn, loud and long. In this way, the bicyclist is made aware of the automobile’s presence.

        • The research I’ve seen indicates it happens on a subconscious level.

    • I only get concerned when folks start getting bought and traded against their will.

  3. [P2]: I’m writing two apps for Android just now. The question becomes “Which Android?”

    [dev@localhost sdk]$ ls platforms
    android-10 android-15 android-16 android-17

    I’m releasing in all of them. I have a host of emulators. It’s become such a ubiquitous dev environment I even have a custom Eclipse set up for nothing but Android development:

    [dev@localhost sdk]$ pwd

    Look, the “computer” should have been reduced to an appliance decades ago. I’m no technology zealot: if you like Windows or iOS or what have you, that’s the environment for you. Android is a long-postponed move in the right direction: a general purpose operating system capable of being moulded to suit your needs. With a few exceptions for people like me who need to develop applications (and even then, I need emulators to develop!) most people shouldn’t have to care about what’s under the covers, any more than you worry about the chipset in your microwave.

    This stuff should be simple and obvious. If I may wax mystical here for a moment, software should be transparent. It should reveal. The measure of excellence in software is how little you have to think about it. Like the Cheshire Cat, it should leave nothing but a smile — on your face. This stuff should just work. Android is evolving quickly — in response to simple, obvious needs in the marketplace.

    • I might broaden the exceptions to include a larger group of people doing creative things. When I’m writing something of some scope, I almost always have both a word-processing window open, and another sizable non-overlapping window where I’m doing support activities (eg, reviewing notes). Most of my personal coding these days is for little microcontrollers, and the environment that works for me is the IDE window where I can manipulate the compiler and download tools, but a tallish xterm running a vi variant for editing simply because it’s the editor that my fingers know best (not to mention that there aren’t a lot of IDE editors that easily provide things like split screens with multiple views into the file(s), simple global search and substitute, etc). There’s usually a small group of other xterms running somewhere on the desktop. Sometimes a small video window up in the corner. Or the app that’s handles digitizing and splitting the content from the old cassette tapes I’m converting this summer.

      All of which is possible on Android, but it’s probably not the best choice for a large-screen display where you’re doing multiple things at once. Someone once said about iOS, “It’s fine if you want to consume content. If you want to create it, not so much.” Same deal for Android, I think, for a wide variety of content.

      • I prefer gvim to vi-in-an-xterm, since there are some things a mouse is handier for.

        • I’ll work on shell scripts and confingulation files in vi or gvim but these days, I can’t manage without Eclipse or in a pinch, the Netbeans IDE. Mucking around with individual source files in a project is madness any more. I need code completion, find-all-references, find-declarations, none of which I can get outside an IDE.

          • Even better: “highlight my typos in red”.

      • Well, sure. Horses for courses. I still prefer Linux, especially Debian, for some ARM-based applications but I like Android running phone-ish applications. Android and Linux are headed in the same directions: what’s good for the one is good for the other — and I wouldn’t develop for Android on anything but Linux any more.

        In a few years the term “smart phone” will be met with derision. We’ve reached the point where it’s no longer about chip speed but more about power consumption and bandwidth, how to do more with less. Fine time to be a coder, I tell yez.

  4. J2: It’s true, to be sure, that “they did control for the usual suspects.” Nevertheless, controlling for those usual suspects (including the employment finding) only explained 33% of the mortality gap for education.

    This is not to say that the strong effect of joblessness isn’t worth further study. Nevertheless, there’s still apparently a lot going on beneath the surface of this study.

    • Note also, while they tried to correct for poverty status, that “Some women were missing data on one or more mechanisms…25 percent were missing poverty status”.

    • That most of it is attributable to the trappings of class is, to me, less interesting than that a significant part of it apparently is not. When I bring things like this up, that not-working has deleterious effects, I often get in the pushback that all of it – or almost all of it – has to be attributable to something else (poverty, stress, pre-existing conditions, etc.). I don’t think that’s the case. This doesn’t prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt or anything, but it is nonetheless points in my belief’s favor.

      • Statistically, poor people in the USA live shorter lives than rich people, though that’s only true until you’re in your mid-seventies. If you’ve made it that far, you’re on par with the rich. See, if you have a working safety net, you can make it out into your seventies, still on your hind legs.

        The poor don’t have as nice a safety net as the wealthy. The poor are involved in more self-destructive behaviours, though stress and lack of exercise can lay anyone low, independently of income. It’s just that the wealthy can afford to get fixed.

        It’s more than the trappings, though you’re right insofar as not-working has deleterious effects. The chief deleterious effect is a lack of health insurance.

      • Will,

        Do you think this is related to the times we see people live and work for a long, long time and immediately upon ceasing work, they die? JoePa springs to mind as a recent example.

        • It’s possible that plays into it, Kazzy. My anecdotal observation is more along the lines of structure or lack thereof.

          • Using an N=1 experiment, I find my overall quality of life better when I’m working than when I’m not. The lack of structure is hugely upsetting.

          • Number of Novels I have written while a full-time student: 2

            Number of Novels I have written while working full-time: 2

            Number of novels I have written while neither working not going to school full time: 0

          • I am the opposite; I only work because I have to. I much prefer the lack of structure during those times I have had it.

            Number of novels Trumwill has had published: 0.

            Number of novels Trumwill has sold: 0. 😉

          • I enjoy the lack of structure, but it’s not the best for my productivity party the short term.

      • If this study is evidence that not-working has deleterious effects independent of the (other) trappings of class, then it’s also evidence that lack-of-education has deleterious effects independent of the (other) trappings of class (including employment). If you want to use this study to show the inherent benefits of working in the context of the “post-employment society” meme, then you must admit its relevance regarding the inherent benefits of education in the context of (say) the “college is not for everyone” meme.

  5. 28 links and not one is recommended.

    I am disappointed you didn’t link to Popehat. That article is more interesting than the links you actually posted.

    Also, people don’t like to wear bicycle helmets because it literaly makes them look like dorks.

    • I have that one flagged for a possible future post.

    • As for recommendations, I didn’t have as much time to assemble the post and so that fell through the cracks. With 3G being so spotty or here, I was glad to get out up at all.

    • I dunno. Bell makes some nice helmets. Sure beats a skull fracture. Your head breaks open like a watermelon when you hit the road. Yeah. Closed casket funeral kinda broken open.

      • There is no bike helmet dorkier then some aging former yuppie CPA wearing leathers with Harley Davidson stitched all over his back cruising his gleaming hog slowly through his gated development on the way to pick up his Viagra prescription.

          • Well to be fair most guys are very fashion conscious. why all the guys with their butt crack hanging out, sleeveless t-shirts, multiple stained sweatpants are only playing to todays fashions. And man that smokeless tobacco and the can of tobacco spit they carry around….pure Madison ave.

        • It’s all a matter of perspective. There’s no problem with being an ageing yuppie unless you’re too stupid to know how to age with grace. He own a Harley because he can afford a nice hog, it’s a toy he’s always wanted. No problem there, either. And if he needs some Viagra, well, it’s better than being in a situation where he wouldn’t have any use for Viagra, on that I hope we can agree.

          As for the dorky helmet, hey, maybe he could go down to the Hog Shop and get a nice Roman Imperial galea with the horse hair crest. Now that would make an impression.

          • Well i do find something funny about very conservative republican types adopting the clothing and gear made prominent by guys who were at the very least thumbing their noses at everything establishment and were often running drugs/ really violent.

          • The biker culture overlaps military culture to a surprising extent. The early bikers, especially the Hell’s Angels, were all veterans. Lots of veterans cope with peacetime by becoming thrill junkies, risk takers, problem children grown old but not grown up.

            Easy Rider might have featured some hippie types but the biker gangs were nothing of the sort. They preyed on the hippies, who thought them cool and counter-cultural, etc. The bikers might have sold those hippies their drugs but they robbed them, too.

  6. J2: Regarding the remark about a post-employment future. There’s a big difference between being jobless today, and being jobless in a society where (a) you get the trappings of a modest middle-class lifestyle anyway and (b) you’ve grown up knowing that most people don’t work and will get those trappings despite that. An anthropologist once pointed out to me that if you want to know what most people in that situation are likely do, look at what people do for hobbies today: grub in the dirt, make music, paint, build odd little things out of wood, do athletic stuff at a modest level, read, hunt, fish, knit.

    Of course, what “post-employment” means has a lot to do with the outcome. If there’s a big demand from people who want to learn to play New Orleans jazz trombone, someone’s going to have to do the teaching. I doubt that there are enough people whose hobby is teaching to meet the demand of a world full of students.

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