Linky Friday #32

Office Space - PrinterFun fact: 32 is one of the most popular jersey numbers in sports…


[S1] Here’s a cool interactive map where you can watch housing prices rise and fall.

[S2] Floating buildings! I dig it.


[T1] According to some, a cracked cellphone screen is a new status symbol, of sorts. Like pre-frayed hats, I guess.But only if you can actually afford a new one, or something. We’ve turned smartphone functionality into something irony-based.

[T2] I like my oversized smartphone. Next time, I may go all-in and get a Note. That being said, for a lot of people, the drawbacks can be pretty significant. It can, for instance, make you lose your friend. Of course, there is a solution to this: Everyone wears pants, a belt, and a phone holster. Problem solved!

Online Dating:

[OD1] This is certainly my experience: Online dating makes us choosier. On the other hand, maybe that’s why the higher success rates?

[OD1] Online dating has been good for gays, too, in accepting their sexuality.

[OD1] An intriguing idea for online dating: Telling you what you’re doing wrong.


[B1] Your brain knows a phony smile when it sees one.

[B2] Are the results of the Milgram Experiment overstated?

[B3] Research Digest has a cool piece on the intuition of homicide detectives.

[B4] It’s a tl;dr world.

[B5] An unexpected benefit of nuclear bombs: Brain regeneration in humans. (Addendum: Brandon points out that it’s actually the measurement of regeneration and not actually regeneration itself)


[T1] We could be flying faster than we do, but we’re too thrifty. Well, there are definite environmental upsides, I suppose.

[T2] MIT Tech Review looks at how self-driving vehicles are outstripping regulators’ ability to regulate them.


[E1] The top foreign-language shows you can see legally in the US. I got my fill of subtitles during my anime days, which is a bit of a shame because I do like foreign entertainment.

[E2] David Lloyd, the artist behind V for Vendetta, talks about the Guy Fawkes mask‘s embrace by radicals and protestors worldwide.

[E3] In the aftermath of Newtown, a lot of people who wanted to talk about the gun culture wanted to keep video game culture off-limits. That’s not so easy.


[J1] Smarter folks than me keep saying that technology cannot destroy jobs past the short term. I guess every generation thinks it, but I do wonder the extent to which “it’s different this time.”

[J2] Food trucks: Feeding employees, and possibly keeping them around.


[A1] Ron Unz has a great piece on the collective failures of our media.

[A2] One of the interesting things during my 1946-60 US History class was how tough the smart set was on Dwight Eisenhower. Often, compared unfavorably to Lincoln. As it ever was

[A3] and PBS have a great story about how a a bunch of artists used smoke and mirrors to fool the Nazis.


[W1] One of these days, I’m going to sit down and read as much about seasteading as I can.

[W2] Here’s a picture of what Antarctica looks like under all that ice. Also, pockmarks we’ve given Earth.

Will Truman

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


  1. Regarding the “Fly cheaper, not faster” article. I don’t buy that. Sure, everyone wants to pay less for a given service, but other than the Concorde, no one has actually tried faster services that I’m aware of. Let’s face it. The Concorde was a narrow plane. Yall seen the set width on them? Looks worse than economy on a 777. American’s fat asses couldn’t tolerate that.

    I can say for 100% sure-ness that on my 16 hr flight from Atlanta to J-burg, I’d consider paying more money for a shorter flight time. How much? Kinda depends upon how much less time. If the flight was only 6 hrs, I’m thinking double to triple what I paid for economy, but sure as hell less than the 10K for first class.

    • Two issues other than the price of the tickets…

      First is the trade-off between range and speed. Non-stop from Atlanta to Johannesburg — 8,400 miles — is possible at sub-sonic speeds. The max range for the Concorde was 4,000 miles, so would have required two refueling stops to provide a reasonable safety margin. Engine technology has improved, but probably not enough to allow non-stop. So some of the advantage goes away because of the refueling time. Depending on where the stop is, and what it does to the path taken, more of the advantage may disappear because supersonic flights over land are not allowed in much of the world due to sonic booms.

      Sonic booms raise what I consider the real question: if you’re a manufacturer, can you sell enough supersonic planes to make a profit, given the limits on the routes where the planes can be flown as intended? Private supersonic flights over developed countries are seldom allowed, and then only for short durations. The US military does its practicing well out in the boonies, where a minimum number of voters have to put up with the noise. Other factors are also hemming in the military — the Air Force was forced to give up overflights in a portion of New Mexico in the 1990s when it was determined that the sonic booms from low-flying planes were damaging the Taos Pueblo. Are there enough long over-water flights within the range of a supersonic plane for which people will pay the big bucks to sell enough planes to make a profit?

      • While true, time and cost are really the major factors to consumers.

        And regarding the j-burg flight. Sonic booms not an issue over the ocean. The refueling might be.

        • And regarding the j-burg flight. Sonic booms not an issue over the ocean. The refueling might be.

          That was my point. How many routes are there that are (a) long enough that the time savings would attract enough passengers at a premium price and (b) over water enough of the time to realize that time savings. Demand would probably support a few daily two-hour East Coast to West Coast flights, but the sonic boom problem precludes that. Britain and France built 20 Concordes. The Soviet Union built 16 Tu-144s. The losses on those projects were guaranteed by the governments. In contrast, Boeing has built over 1,000 777s, Airbus over 980 A330s, Boeing 66 787s (with orders for more than 750), and Airbus has orders for almost 700 of the upcoming A350s. Those are the kinds of numbers for sales that the manufacturers need to see in order to sink tens of billions of dollars into development. The only entity I see that might take the risk is the Chinese government, as a showcase product (produced at a substantial loss) to help them break into the global market for commercial jetliners.

  2. T1:
    Like many “new youth trends” stories written by people who aren’t actually youth, I suspect this is making something big out of something that, while not totally made up, is not quite the trend the headline writers wish it was.

    Here’s another article on the subject.

    It’s an accident when it drops, but nobody wants to pay the money to get it fixed,” explained 18-year-old Kaitlyn Wilson of Liberty, Missouri, who recently was visiting a Kansas City, Missouri Apple store. “So, whatever, you have a cracked phone. If you were the only person with a cracked screen, you would probably run out to get it fixed. But everybody else’s is cracked, so why not leave it?”

    “My contract’s up in four months anyway,” the 17-year-old Overland Park, Kansas, girl said. “I’m just going to ride it out. And if I can be cool while doing it? Bonus!”

  3. OD1: I’ve never done true online dating, though I do remember meeting girls in high school through AIM. However, it would seem that the “choosiness” is related to when certain information is revealed about a person. If you are on your third date with someone who you have become quite fond of when you learn about a cat allergy, you can put that in conversation with all the positive traits. But if you find out about their cat allergy before even having met them, you don’t yet have a person connection with them that might allow you to overlook it.

    • The choosiness isn’t so much about the information, even though that’s part of it. The choosiness is that for many people, especially any above-average attractive woman or man, you can easily get another date, so if you don’t instanly “feel” the spark with date number one, off to the other three first dates you have that week.

      • Like I said bellow, its the paradox of choice. The more options you have, the harder it is to make a choice at times.

        • Burdan’s ass problems have been an issue in dating since time immemorial, I imagine, and the easiness of getting dates online can only make them more common, and more difficult to resolve. I can remember times when I was dating two women at the same time, and couldn’t decide between them because they were both really cool, so I ended up with neither.

          • In my case, its easy for me to get first dates but I never seem to impress the woman enough to get a second date or anything more.

          • I was crappy at every stage in the process until exclusivity. I made a good boyfriend but a terrible suitor. I don’t miss the single life.

          • Will, I was, and perhaps remain, exactly the opposite. Good suitor, terrible boyfriend. I have had a lot of great first, second, and third dates. After that, my incompetence increases exponentially.

          • Will, I suspect that its going to be the same for me. I’m a bit of an acquired taste and the suitor stage requires a lot of instant gratification.

  4. An unexpected benefit of nuclear bombs: Brain regeneration in humans.

    They didn’t cause the neurogenesis—they just provided a way to measure it.

  5. [B4] I think part of this is because a lot of stuff online is horribly edited. The worst are places that focus on “long form” journalism or writing that really means, “We’re too cool for an editor.” The most egregious example of this is Bill Simmons and Grantland.

    • Interestingly the places that focus on long-form tend to be older and have editors like The New Republic. At least in my experience and observations.

      The no-editors places also tend to accept submissions from a hundred would be writers. XOJane seems to take way too much pride on their no-editors policy.

      • I guess, I should have been more specific in my critique. Old print places like TNR, the New Yorker and the Atlantic do their long form writing quite well because they have a tradition of doing it and dealing with long form. And because they come from a print tradition, they also have had to deal with the limits of space that print gave them. Many of the newer web only long form sites don’t have that tradition and seem to come from the “Saying more is better than saying less” tradition.

  6. T2:

    I’m a huge fan of the advent of driverless cars. The savings in energy costs and lives saved will be phenomenal. The author is smart to emphasize the piecemeal implementation of this technology, because that’s what’s going to make it affordable to the masses, and what will bring about a lot of the savings, especially in lives, even before we have a big market in fully automated cars.

    The regulatory part is a bit amusing. It reveals how regulators are never really very forward looking, but are always reactive, always playing catch up. Nothing wrong in that, it’s just how the world works. But there’s a substantial set of folks who think government has a special capacity to be forward thinking, and it’s just not true. Their very humanness, their incentives, and the troublesome problem of all that human ingenuity spread throughout the regulated sphere, mean that catch-up will be the norm, everywhere and at all times.

    • I maintain my objection to driverless cars. If I’m able to get hammered in NYC with some buddies, I need something standing in the way of us getting in the car and going to Atlantic City.

          • Well, usually, we’re all hammered. And two hours ain’t nothing when you’re tanked and jonesing to gamble.

            And I assume we can all drink while in a driverless car… yes?

      • I too object to “driverless cars”, because I like to drive. And when the day comes that all the cars are driverless, even if i switch to manual, no doubt, I won’t be able to speed.


        • If driverless cars became the requirement, you would generally be able to get where you are going faster without speeding.

          • I think driverless cars are a great idea. My main worry is how to keep psychogeeks from programing them to ram something.

          • Would driverless cars be in constant communication with one another? Or would they read and react as they go?

            I always imagine a network with the former, wherein as soon as a new car entered the system, every other car accounted for it’s path. The system would be constantly evolving as new cars entered and exited or adjusted their paths. As I envision it, you could almost eliminate idling. Your car would know in advance when it’d be needing to give way to other cars (such as those already in an intersection) and would simply adjust the speed as necessary before reaching that point.

            It’d be complicated as fuck, but I imagine it possible.

          • Dexter: That’s actually not very hard. That sort of bare bones stuff would be hard-coded in anyways.

            Routing and handling detours and construction and the like are difficult problems. “Not hitting something if at all possible, and if not avoidable make it as soft as possible” is something simple enough to have been solved since practically the beginning. And it’s very easy to prevent that code from being accessible or alterable short of removing and replacing components of your car.

            Kazzy: Swarm based driving would lead to other things. Like the lack of a need for red lights or stop signs. Traffic at intersections could interpenetrate.

          • Would driverless cars be in constant communication with one another? Or would they read and react as they go?

            There are certainly situations where both types are appropriate. Navigating a crowded constantly-changing urban environment would require the car to make decisions on the fly. Recently I drove across I-80 in Nebraska. In the western part of the state, traffic is dominated by large long-haul trucks that operate in one speed range, some cars that operate at somewhat higher speeds, and the occasional dilapidated pick-up that operates 20 mph slower than anyone else. A number of troublesome situations could be eliminated if the vehicles communicated with each other and made more reasonable collective decisions about what speed to use and when to pull out to pass.

          • Morat,

            That is how I envisioned it. Then again, these were the thoughts of a teenage Kazzy after watching “Demolition Man” for the umpteenth time.

            (By the way, did you know “umpteenth” is a word? According to my spell check, it is!)

          • Kazzy,

            From what I’ve read, car-car communication is almost certain. It would essentially just be radiowave communication between them, so, for example, if a car ahead of you applied its breaks, that signal is sent out and your car receives it and reacts accordingly. It seems surprisingly simple. And this all happens much faster than we humans could react. And with a combination of radar and radio signals, your car can know what’s happening with that car ahead of the big truck that’s blocking your view.

          • Johanna, why would you need car to car communications for that situation rather than going by existing signals? If the car in front of you brakes, it already sends out a signal that travels at the speed of light, the brake lights turn on. The radio signal would be helpful for what the car two ahead does.

          • The radio signal would both be more reliable (no burnt-out bulbs) and far more detailed: “light braking, slowly increasing, but only minimal slowing due to slippery road surface.”

          • Mo,

            “Johanna” was actually (yes, yet again) me.

            Anyway, 2 reasons.

            1) Reaction time. The signal may come at the speed of light, but combined with human reaction time, it’s going to be slower than radio signals with automated reaction. And that’s in the best case when you actually see the brake lights immediately. How often have you glanced away from the car in front of you and they began to brake before you glanced back? Or there was the time the sun was shining on the taillights of the car in front of me in a way that prevented me from seeing that the brake lights had come on, so that I almost rear-ended….my wife’s car (true story).

            2. Brake lights of cars several vehicles ahead of you aren’t always visible, as when you have a truck between you and them. You can only react after the truck driver has, whereas with car to car communication your car will automatically react before you ever would have known a car was slowing down.

            You can’t always see the brakes, for example if you have a truck in front of you and it is the car in front of the truck that brakes.

          • j@m3z, I meant that the self-driving car could detect the brake light. I acknowledge that you can’t detect a couple cars in front, but detecting brake lights combined with laser distancing should be sufficient to see what the car in front of you is doing without a requirement for radio communications. This also has the advantage of requiring far less processing power in having to listen to every car near you on the highway and trying to figure out which ones are relevant to your car’s travel and how to adapt appropriately.

          • Mo,

            How does the car detect the brake light? Especially if the braking car is blocked from view by a truck?

  7. I might the only person who really dislikes the current vogue for Guy Fawks’ masks because historically Guy Fawks was a terrorist. He was a Catholic-zealot, not a freedom fighter!

    • They’re hilarious.
      The Scientologists’ reaction was even more hilarious.

      Please tell me you can’t see the irony in it.

    • A part of me wonders if200 years from now Mars City University will have The Jihadists as their mascot.

      • I’m hoping for Amy Wong personally.

        But it makes it hard for me to take groups seriously when they do stuff like this and think it is “deep”. The same is true for people who quote the Prime Directive as serious political philosophy.

        • Not to mention all the people who quote Lazarus Long.

          • I try to limit myself to “Always store beer in a cool, dark place.” Which is an outstanding answer to the deep philosophical question many of us have faced in our lives, particularly after over-indulging: “Where should I put the rest of the beer?”

  8. The Milgram article is interesting… but there’s a lot of stuff going on there and there are a lot of reasons to give for why you kept pushing the button. “I knew it was fake and I was doing a reverse experiment” is one heck of a flattering reason to have for why you kept pressing the button.

    It’s certainly a lot more flattering than “the guy in the coat said it was okay”.

    • Yeah. I’d love to see some facial analysis of these people (or heartrate, or pupil dilation, or half a dozen other psychophys measures.)

    • Later replications (there were hundreds before ethical guidelines made more impossible), make the “I knew I was in an experiment” explanation more plausible.

      I think there’s been a general trend in social psychology over the last 5-10 years to give less and less weight to the Milgram experiments. I suspect that, as methods become more sophisticated, we’ll find a more accurate representation of our tendency to follow orders unquestionably and defer our moral judgments.

        • There were questions about the methodology of the prison experiment from day 1. I think it’s taken significantly less seriously within social psychology than the two other legendary studies, the Milgram and the bystander apathy studies started by Darley and Latané. Zimbardo’s study was taken more seriously outside of psychology than within it. You’ll notice it hasn’t spawned a whole lot of research attempting to explain it, which is the first sign that researchers don’t buy it.

          • Chris:
            On the topic of psychology, I salvaged a copy of Games People Play from the discard bin at a used book store last week and thought it was interesting. Are transactional and/or game analysis taken seriously nowadays, or have they been discredited?

          • I haven’t seen it cited, though a quick Google scholar search suggests that it one was cited a lot. My guess is it’s not taken seriously anymore, but may have one been.

          • Chris, why are you showing Brandon so much disrespect?

          • (If I recall correctly, that game is called “Let’s you and him fight”.)

      • I think the Milgrim experiments were solid, but people tend to trot them out to often. They showed something, but they are not an automatic debate winner regarding deference to power.

        • The Milgram experiments were solid, particularly given the state of experimental methodology in psychology at the time. And there is a ton of data to work with. People have been studying the potential causes of the effect even after it became ethically impossible to replicate the effects themselves. I think that researchers have become more and more worried about the experimental controls, though, and in particular the response demands of the methodology if participants didn’t buy the study’s deception.

      • What exactly were the ethical guidelines that made such an experiment impossible? It can’t simply be to ban deceit, because I took part of a study in college that actively used deceit.

        • There are now pretty strict guidelines governing deceit. Just about every study I’ve ever conducted involved deceit, but that meant at least a cursory IRB review.

          The ethical issues within the Milgram experiment concern the combination of deceit and the extreme amount of psychological stress involved for the participants who bought the deceit. The general rule since at least the late 70s has been that if you’re going to cause that much stress to participants, their consent to participate has to be informed.

          • The deceit I’ve used has generally been in order to keep the participants from figuring out the purpose of the study, in order to avoid them trying to answer how they think they’re supposed to answer (a common problem in psychology research, because participants want to please the experimenters, especially when the participants are psychology undergrads participating for course credit). For example, I might tell participants that they’re going to be participating in a series of unrelated studies, when in fact they are all related, because I don’t want them to figure out that the second or third “study” is actually testing the effects of the stimuli or task from the first study (sometimes I’ve used actually unrelated studies as fillers in memory tasks, so that there is a gap between the stuff to be remembered and the remembering).

          • …in order to avoid them trying to answer how they think they’re supposed to answer…

            The now-antique Psychology of Computer Programming had one of my favorite instances of this. A large firm was giving all of its programmers personality tests, in hopes of discovering some correlation that would allow them to select people more likely to become good programmers (yes, long enough ago that programming was something you learned after you came to work, often after holding another position at the company). The programmers were aware of the purpose of the tests. One of the programmers asked the test administrator, “What personality should we use on this test?” The administrator replied that the programmers should answer the questions honestly. To which another programmer responded, “What kind of fools do you think we are?”

          • The studies I was in would be consistent with that. They were attempting to determine how emotion impacted a range of responses and performances. As an example, one part of the study involved the participant sitting in a silent room and listening to different sequences of tones and indicating whether or not they seemed to be aligned with their heartbeat. The design of the test involved the test giver coming in afterwards and explaining that there was a malfunction and they were really sorry and we needed to repeat the 30 minute exercise from the top. It was incredibly tedious and boring, so this was intended to frustrate the participant. In reality, the test worked the whole time and they wanted to compare before and after results.

            Of course, I fell asleep during the first test and assumed the malfunction was my fault, so I never got upset.

            Other things were similar: people jostling you in the hallway as you proceeded to a testing room or watching your test taker get berated by her superior mid test. Stuff like that.

            They explained all this to me after the fact.

          • Kazz, informed consent forms at the beginning and debriefing forms at the end are now standard pieces of research ethics. And the debriefing is supposed to explain the deception and its purpose. Occasionally a participant gets readily passed upon learning that he or she has been lied to.

          • Got it. My study was about 10 years ago so presumably they were abiding by fairly current standards. And whatever forms they gave me, I probably didn’t read anyway.

            I was a bad participant for their study. Between falling asleep, not being prone to anger or frustration, and being able to see through many of their ruses (they were college kids in the psych department…. acting was not their forte), I likely didn’t manifest the sorts of results they were expecting.

            But, hey, I got beer money for it!

  9. re: police detectives.
    I know a guy who’s done a bit of private eye work.
    Says he’s not too terribly impressed by cops.
    (looking at the Darwin Awards, I tend to agree).

  10. OD1- I think online dating is the perfect example of the “paradox of choice”, the more choices that people have the harder it becomes to choose. Before online dating, meeting potential romantic partners was hard and people had limited options. They could do it at work, through friends and family, or at various social events and venues. Online dating gives people access to thousands of potential partners. This makes people relucant to choose because many of them are always thinking I can do better.

  11. [OD3] – Am I the only one who is in a happy relationship, but still intrigued in trying the idea just to better understand myself?

  12. Could we have a linky Friday discussing bandwidth and why it only affects some people and not others?

  13. Lurkers of the world unite. Demand access without wasting ions.

Comments are closed.