Linky Friday: Space Congresscritters


asteroid photo

Image by Kevin M. Gill Linky Friday: Space Congresscritters

[Sp1] Did Pluto get its unusual number of moons through a big whack?

[Sp2] To Boldly (But in Compliance With Applicable Regulations) Go

[Sp3] Not just solar wind.

[Sp4] These are fun. My favorite is “The Vast Emptiness Will Consume Your Soul”

[Sp5] I fear the alien engineers are at it again.


[F1] Women are apparently worse about paying child support than men, on average. Presumably, this is at least partially because women are probably more likely to be in a bad place if their partner gets primary custody.

[F2] Is the low fertility rate in Japan primarily a problem with men?

[F3] Sometimes, maybe, we need to stick with our noble myths.

[F4] This will end badly.

[F5] A personals ad… from 1865.


[H1] Cigarette taxes negatively impact food security, and ultimately become a way for state and local government to line their pockets with federal money.

[H2] An interview with an activist trying to rein in pharmaceutical promotions.

[H3] Here is the science of limbs falling asleep.

[H4] The story of Clair Patterson’s war against lead.

[H5] In their evangelical zeal, Democrats have ceded all reasonable middle ground on the subject of ecigarettes. The Trump administration just seized it, and just helped a lot of smokers quit.


flying car photo

Image by JoeInSouthernCA Linky Friday: Space Congresscritters

[Tr1] Ann Arbor appears to be becoming a hub for the self-driving car.

[Tr2] A hyperloop success story!

[Tr3] Will Brown evidently hates convenience and society.

[Tr4] I vote for the passenger side, because that’s the side I’m used to puling up on the curb.

[Tr5] If you’re interested in finding the cheapest route somewhere in Britain, the path will take you to some interesting places.


robot dinosaurs photo

Image by squeezeomatic Linky Friday: Space Congresscritters

[C1] Jurassic Park! Except with robots. This is like two thrillers in one.

[C2] How capitalism saved the bees!

[C3] The down and dirty story of lice.

[C4] Meet Sodalis, a microbe you want in you!

[C5] {Ominous music}


[G1] A look at the relationship between Bangladeshi MP’s and their constituents.

[G2] Brad Plumer wants to know how we’re going to replace our troubled water system.

[G3] I wish I had a clever summation of this 2014 on “governing through unhappiness” but I don’t. There’s a lot of good stuff to ponder.

[G4] The importance of the design of parliamentary seating arrangements.

[G5] How did feudalism work?

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

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34 thoughts on “Linky Friday: Space Congresscritters

  1. Sp4: A lot of the captions needed work. The caption for the astronaut pointing his finger at you should have been “Neil Armstrong Wants You.”

    F2: My inner misogynist is making me think that Japanese women want to have their cake and eat it to. The inability of young Japanese men to get good paying jobs is no more fault than it is the fault of young men anywhere for the most part. The economy changed and women are not changing their expectations to meet that fact. They want both the modern emotional, supportive man and the traditional man that brings in the bacon at the same time apparently.

    F3: Society is maintained by a thin layer of polite fictions that should generally not be disturbed.

    F5: OkCupid for an age that wrote formally and with proper grammar.

    Tr1: Michigan must always be number one it comes to cars.

    Tr3: Christ, what an asshole. It kind of surprised me that it took so long for wheelie suitcases to be invented though.

    G2: We aren’t going to replace our water systems unless we get rid of government is the problem/anti-tax mania/FYIGM mania.

    G5: According to the article, it didn’t work because it never existed.

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    • Oh good grief. So we have a massive structural failure in Japanese capitalism, along with unchecked greed and exploitation, so the solution, in your mind, is that women need to provide more sexual access.

      The thing is, these guys are a mess, for a variety of reasons, but in the end their self-confidence is shot. They’re broken down. This isn’t their fault, but neither is it the fault of women. The problem is, for everyone involved, they would make terrible boyfriends.

      Trust me on this. Terrible. Fucking. Boyfriends.

      I’ve seen this with my own eyes. I’m watching it unfold now, with a friend dating “that guy,” and emotional nincompoop that screwed up his shot with the first women in ten years willing to date him. He fucked it up, badly, by being a hyper-controlling insecure jerk who had zero respect for her boundaries.

      I’ve heard this story so many times: “that time I dated an insecure ‘nerd’ and he ended up being more abusive, more demanding, more controlling, more closed off than any one else I’ve ever dated.”

      The cost of high standards is diminished experience. But not all experience is good experience. Furthermore, people are not fungible. I might want to date person X, but very much not want to date person Y.

      I can’t find the link now, but I read an article the other day by a woman, wherein she said, “Look guys, you have to understand, you’re not only in competition with other men. You’re also in competition with how much I enjoy being alone.”

      Yep. For women (some women) (many women), being alone is actually not so bad, compared to being in a shitty relationship with an emotionally closed off man. So we sip our wine, pet our cats, and perhaps explore bisexuality.

      The point is, these women are making reasonable choices, given the social landscape.

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      • I’m hip.

        One of the main reasons that I’m not a misogynist despite a romantic history every bit as futile as LeeEsq’s is that I realize how devastatingly unlikely it is that I date a woman who has as high standards as I do and I meet them and being with me is more fun than her being alone, and vice versa on both counts – and then when it happens (a second time) our not being so similar we don’t either end up in a mutual TPK or fusing into a new being like in the old short story?

        Never happen. But I’m OK with that. Mostly. Well, not OK, but it’s not worthy of rage.

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    • Personally I doubt the veracity of articles along the lines of “Japanese aren’t into sex” because they smack of exoticism and racism. The birthrate in Japan is comparable to many Western European countries and the “studies” seem more like anecdotes.

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      • I’d tend to agree. Culturally they do have a real problem with overwork. I don’t care what your culture is, it doesn’t rewrite the human body and brain.

        There’s probably some 0.5% of people that can handle regular 60+ hour weeks with vim and vigor and a health life in the 3 hours a day they have outside of work and sleep, and by that I mean “without using a lot of cocaine” but most people doing that basically cut out everything that isn’t “work, sleep, and the minimum possible form of stress relief” (the latter often stuff like “gym rats” or “drinking heavily” or anything else that can be shoehorned into a few hours and can be absolutely severed from work — so no commitments) and basically trudge along like zombies with ridiculously low per-hour productivity because people still somehow believe that “12 hour days” mean you’re productive…

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        • Also, Japanese culture traditionally has a somewhat – ambiguous – relationship with the active expression of female sexuality.

          Combine that with a culture that enshrines overwork, drinking, drinking with your co-workers, going back to work, then drinking afterward…

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  2. H3: I was hoping for more reassurance that “you really can’t ‘kill’ your hand by sleeping on it funny for too long” – that’s always one of my vague fears when I wake up with pins and needles; that THIS TIME I’ve laid on it for too long and now it’s never going to come back to proper life.

    (My hands are important to me. All my hobbies – needle crafts of various sorts and playing piano – depend on having functional hands)

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  3. Sp3 – it is the mission of every science writer of this generation to get in at least one headline about the penultimate known planet of this solar system.

    Sp4 – “Mars: It’s a lawless wasteland without consequence!” -> in the future, the Vegas tourist board is going to have to up its game.

    Tr4 – driver’s side, so you are entering and exiting the gas pump island in a way that is constituent with North American traffic patterns. (i.e. driving on the right, oncoming traffic on your left). It’s also easier to get closer to the pump and lined up correctly fore & aft for the same reason.

    C1 – Isn’t “Jurassic Park except with robots” called “Westworld” for short?

    G5 – ugh, then what did they actually *do* in the Middle Ages to run things?

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  4. [F1] Sounds like we need a campaign against those damn deadbeat moms!

    [F4] How will it end badly for the guy? :)

    [Tr3] Let’s NOT blame the humans who use the tools (wheelies) but the wheelies themselves. Sure, that makes sense. Sheesh, I’ve never really had a problem. I keep on the lookout for idiots who can’t manage space and I am aware of where my wheelie ends. Adulting 101.

    [Tr4] Yawn. I prefer the tank access to be on the passenger side too. Tired of pulling in, when the tanks on the drivers side, and having to manage the car door swing being blocked by the pump or other crap on the “island”.

    [C1] This reminds me of those youtube videos of a guy in a costume like this scaring people in parking garages.

    [G2] This is the same problem as the “highway transportation fund” which is supposed to be used to maintain/upgrade/construct roads. It gets raided all the time to cover other shortfalls in the current budget. Cities/states have bailed on adequately funding infrastructure to pay for other “priorities”, ie not doing their damn job.

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  5. G2: Vox article wastes too much time trying to be Tom Friedman (we need a water system 4.0, and let me spend most of my time talking about 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 so you won’t notice how vague 4.0 is).

    The insinuation that our water system was built with federal grants is almost certainly false. It was built at the state or local level, and beginning about 40 years ago the EPA began proving grants and revolving loans to upgrade water systems in light of new envt’l requirements. Still does. The most important role for the federal government was the Clean Water Act, which made surface waters clean enough to drink with minimal treatment.

    Combined sewer problems and water scarcity in the West are not new issues, no matter what number you put behind it.

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    • I’ve read the original article in La Civilta Cattolica, and it’s pretty bad. It’s a rehash of the biggest fears the left has of evangelicals, combined with everyone’s biggest fears about what Trump represents. It’s neither consistent with Catholic thinking nor consistent with US political reality. It’s stoked some anger on the right, but only among people who would have been angry at left-leaning South American Jesuits anyway.

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  6. This seems….not great, even if you’re a small government conservative. Or not seem like something that would’ve happened under Rubio, Cruz, Walker, or Jeb! I originally got this from Rod Dreher’s blog, so it’s not like only whiny loser liberals like me are bothered by this.

    After Pyle’s list of questions wound up on Bloomberg News, the Trump administration disavowed them, but a signal had been sent: We don’t want you to help us understand; we want to find out who you are and punish you. Pyle vanished from the scene. According to a former Obama official, he was replaced by a handful of young ideologues who called themselves “the Beachhead Team.” “They mainly ran around the building insulting people,” says a former Obama official. “There was a mentality that everything that government does is stupid and bad and the people are stupid and bad,” says another. They allegedly demanded to know the names and salaries of the 20 highest-paid people in the national-science labs overseen by the D.O.E. They’d eventually, according to former D.O.E. staffers, delete the contact list with the e-mail addresses of all D.O.E.-funded scientists—apparently to make it more difficult for them to communicate with one another. “These people were insane,” says the former D.O.E. staffer. “They weren’t prepared. They didn’t know what they were doing.”

    “We had tried desperately to prepare them,” said Tarak Shah, chief of staff for the D.O.E.’s $6 billion basic-science program. “But that required them to show up. And bring qualified people. But they didn’t. They didn’t ask for even an introductory briefing. Like ‘What do you do?’?” The Obama people did what they could to preserve the institution’s understanding of itself. “We were prepared for them to start wiping out documents,” said Shah. “So we prepared a public Web site to transfer the stuff onto it—if needed.”

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  7. G5: The article is excellent. In my medieval history phase of the 1980s feudalism was still pretty widely accepted in the books I was reading, which were probably written ten or twenty years earlier, the typical discussion of feudalism was to describe how it (supposedly) worked then explain that it never worked that way in whatever place was under discussion. The implicit idea was that feudalism worked as a general model, but was an idealized version of messy reality, which was chock full of exceptions like this place. Where this place was didn’t matter.

    Also, the same thing happens with baseball history. There is a traditional version of early baseball history that formed about a century ago in a series of books by old timers, each with his agenda. The coalescing of these various agendas resulted in an accepted version that is to an impressive degree bullshit.

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    • Couldn’t the same be said for any form of gov’t/politics though? Any group with power has things it wants to do, but the “system” doesn’t allow. Thus work-arounds get formed, exceptions made and on and on. This even applies to business practices, universities, I would guess sports, add infinitum.

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      • Sure, and that is more or less what all those local-area specialists assumed was going on: Feudalism was the system, and here was the local adaptation of that system. The point is that it turns out that the system of feudalism never actually existed, even as an ideal. It was at best an ex post facto attempt to systematize what had gone on, but that is generous. The simpler explanation is that it was simply wrong.

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    • I noticed this same thing, over the years, dabbling in history. One never saw “feudalism” as such. Sure, there were nobles and knights and all of that, but it seemed like armies were made of many non-knights and the ranks of nobility seemed to function differently from the textbook version.

      Which leaves the question: how did it all actually work?

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        • “Well, junior, the way it worked is that whenever two noble families couldn’t agree on somethin’, they had a feud. They were feudal, see, and feudin’ is what feudal people did. That’s why they called ’em feudal. Now that there European feudalism didn’t finally die out till the Hatfields and McCoys, among the last of the noble families, buried the hatchet up at Tug Fork, winning them a noble peace prize, though some say they won it cause they’d used so much dynamite during the feud, but that never made sense to me.”

          “Thanks grandpa. How’d you get so smart?”

          “Well I’ll tell ya, it ain’t book learnin’. No siree. It’s just knowin’ stuff.”

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  8. G3: As is par for the course, the histrionics over so-called “austerity” are wildly overblown. Here’s a chart of UK government spending as a percentage of GDP. By default it shows the last ten years; click the “max” button below the chart to zoom out for context.

    This reveals the so-called austerity to be nothing more than a winding down of the anomalously high spending that was undertaken in response to the global financial crisis. In 2014, and even today, government spending as a percentage of GDP (to say nothing of real per-capita spending) remained far above the lows of the late 90s. In fact, the last time government spending was as great a percentage of GDP as it was in 2014 was a generation earlier, in 1987 or so.

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  9. Health news that is actually for real good news.

    Libertarians score big victory in ‘right-to-try’ drug bill

    The Senate unanimously approved a bill Thursday that would allow people facing life-threatening diseases access to unapproved experimental drugs, providing a victory for libertarian advocates who see government regulators thwarting patients’ rights.

    Now to see if the House kills it in committee and then if Trump signs it.

    We’ve done the “introduced” and we’ve done the “passed senate”.
    Fingers crossed.

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    • I’m looking forward to seeing how this is spun as a bad thing because Trump.

      “Trump signs bill allowing drug companies to conduct human trials without oversight!”

      “New Frankenstein: Trump’s giveaway to Big Pharma unleashes familiar nightmares”

      “An experimental drug made my skin rot off. Trump thinks the company should get away with it.”

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  10. G5:
    I don’t think they have completely disassembled the basic premise, that central authority permitted limited land use on oath, act or instrument. From there the status of people typical pivoted on the persons position on the land and or tenure. Wealth was extracted from the subjects. There was considerable variations from France, England and Germany. Not sure it’s useful to parse military aspects.

    I always wondered how accurate some of the claims were. They appeared to go into the weeds with great detail, in a time that these entities were not uniform on whole to begin with.

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    • Unfortunately, the article stopped before it explained what parts of the prior conceptions were completely incorrect, if not all of them. So now I know that “feudalism” wasn’t what was going on, without knowing what was going on.

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      • Yeah it’s difficult to parse if it was the wording semantics, the semantics of past scholars, or the accuracy of the system they were trying to describe, or the overall lack of uniformity in what they were trying to describe.

        There is enough history record of the authoritarians of the time, I think they will have a tough time disappearing the entire notion. Maybe revise it to a little less specific, but I’m not betting on any kind of consensus, so it will probably stay the same.

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        • Wiki’s entry, under “challenges to the feudal model”, says “In 1974, U.S. historian Elizabeth A. R. Brown[5] rejected the label feudalism as an anachronism that imparts a false sense of uniformity to the concept. “

          Britannica’s entry on feudalism was helpful, as it was written by Elizabeth A.R. Brown.

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