Linky Friday #40

Michael ChiklisSociety:

[S1] Seems obvious to say that anti-fat bias correlates with a pro-thin preference, but the always-great Pacific Standard nonetheless made an interesting story out of it.

[S2] I don’t even know how to begin to describe this article on Occupy and anarchism. But if the subjects of Occupy and anarchism interest you, I think you’ll really like it.

Science & Progress:

[P1] I get giddy at the thought of what the future might hold in traffic management innovation. Waze has proven to be a pretty cool app.

[P2] As I have previously mentioned, I think solutions like carbon farms may be our only hope, as far as global warming is concerned. Otherwise, if projections and predictions are right, it could get expensive and messy.

[P3] Tuberculosis really, really hates us. Or maybe it just thinks we’re awesome.

[P4] In 2005, Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt argue that kid-carseat-mania is misguided.


[B1] I love these motivational posters from the 20’s. My funny-favorite is “Criticism is necessary” and my straight-favorite is “Step up!”

[B2] Hanna Rosin points out what most people should already know: the “Women make 77 cents on the dollar for the same job as men” isn’t true. A couple caveats, of course: Even if it’s not 23%, 9% is significant. And second, not all of the reasons for the other 14% are benign.


[E1] Are online/MOOC courses transforming Duke University?

[E2] For the longest time, the US only had three colleges.

[E3] Are colleges finally becoming concerned with tuition rates?

[E4] I hereby resolve to try using 13 of these 18 obsolete words that deserve a comeback.

[E5] Vocabulary Builder is a pretty awesome feature on the Kindle. it takes words that users look up and gives you flash cards to see if you know them.

[E6] There are more to the “young people living with their parents” stories and statistics than we think.


[A1] Sprawling metropolii like Dallas and Atlanta are less segregated than traditional cities like Boston and New York.

[A2] North Dakota has been one of the economic bright spots of the country. If visits are any indication, Obama isn’t very interested, as he has yet to visit the state.

[A3] One of the limitations of federalism is that wind does not recognize state borders.

[A4] Connecticut needs a shotgun marriage to Rhode Island.

[A5] Map: The many, many rivers of the United States.

[A6] Judicial elections are a crock. Even some elected judges say so.


[W1] My own morbid curiosity keeps me interested in China’s ghost cities. So cool, so depressing. Anyway, here’s the story of a German-flavored one. And Italian.

[W2] The UK and Ireland are having serious problems with the sale of illicit tobacco, complete with fears of trade funding terrorism.

[W3] The chimp mascot of a Russian casino has alcohol and nicotine problems. Fortunately, he’s going to get help.

[W4] Nearly a quarter of Germans men think that zero is the perfect number of children. Jon Last argues that government day care isn’t the solution.

[W5] According to the Financial Times, Germany’s obsession with exports is causing it problems.

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45 thoughts on “Linky Friday #40

  1. E4 link doesn’t go anywhere. Luckily i am imbued with sangfroid that helped me deal with this deleterious situation. I mean really, i’m tired and wanted something interesting and the Internet failed to entertain me… world.

    Is there a special word for a link that doesn’t go where it should? There should be if there isn’t. I suggest Lank. Its a mix of Lack and Link, as in the link is lacking an accurate address. It can be used as “I’m really lanked off about that dead link.”


  2. [P4] A further study would determine whether car seats reduce injuries, not just fatalities. Not that I am a pro carseat guy, but that is still important information for determining whether to use them. Also, if making car seats difficult to install and secure properly results in making a child less safe than a seatbelt, that would also be important information.


  3. A3: Perhaps the long, winding road on this will finally be resolved (although I suspect the Court will make some clarification and remand, rather than actually deciding). The Bush EPA issued CAIR in 2005, the Appeals Court found it to be unlawful in 2008, but allowed it to go into effect in 2009 anyway pending the EPA issuing a new rule (with a warning that the Court wouldn’t wait forever). The Obama EPA finalized CSAPR in 2011, but it was tossed by the Appeals Court because it did not give the 28 affected states an opportunity to create their own abatement plans first. And this rule just covers SO2, NOx, and fine particle emissions.

    At one level, I can just sit back and chuckle — both CAIR and CSAPR affect Texas and Eastern Interconnect states, but are non-events in the West.


  4. P4:

    I find a number of the “best practices” for parents to be more about assuaging guilt than actual safety. For instance, my research into all the rules for baby sleeping indicated that while the currently advocated for practices are better than other practices, the difference isn’t as huge as some people would like you to think. A baby sleeping on its side or stomach isn’t guaranteed death. But by doing everything “right”, I think a certain peace of mind is achieved. Should something tragic happen, parents can at least know they didn’t cause it.

    That’s my theory, at least.


    • I also wonder how much the improved results are due to other factors. Like the kind of person that is careful and insistent about a baby sleeping on its back likely has a bunch of other positive behaviors associated with better outcomes. This is similar to what Emily Oster found with finding out good statistics on whether an occasional glass of wine is ok when you’re pregnant. The type of pregnant woman that eschews alcohol completely is different, on average, from those that don’t stop drinking. But what happens if you have someone who is more like the former population that has an occasional glass of wine?


      • And as Russell wrote once (in a piece that has been oh so fortunate for my family), some efforts at advocacy go so over the top because it is the only way to convince people.

        Saying you can reduce your child’s risk of SIDS from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 30,000 (not real number) if an expensive or difficult routine is followed might not change minds.
        But saying, “OH GOD, THE CHILDREN WILL DIE IF THEY SLEEP ON THEIR SIDES!!! WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?!?!” is going to be a lot more effective, albeit via emotional manipulation. That seems to be what the piece was discussing… let’s amplify the emphasis on car seats just so kids are strapped in with something.


  5. W4- I think you can argue that a declining and aging population is bad from an economic and maybe societal point of view but a good thing from an environmental point of view since fewer people means less strains on the environment. I’m still a maybe from a societal point of view. The problem with a declining population from a societal point of view is that you don’t have young people to take care of the old people, especially the old people that can’t take of themselves. However, smaller families are arguably a good thing in a society that sees gender equality as a good thing since it frees women from being stuck in the role of wife and mother.

    I don’t think that anything could be done to avert the global decline fertility. There lots of reasons why people are having fewer children for lots of reasons. People had many children in the past because they were both an economic benefit and a form of old age insurance plus societal expectations. In many places children are cost and the welfare state and other services make them less necessary as a form of old age insurance. Children are still necessary if you loose your ability to take care of yourself.

    The other reason is that being child-free is more attractive now than it was in the past because its better to be a single or childless couple now than it was in the past. In the developed world, there is no stigma or pen about extra-marital sex or romance, especially if you are a woman. People have more entertainment options available even if there love and sex life are lackluster.

    Increasing global fertility is going to revolve a massive roleback against modernity and I doubt that many people are going to tolerate it even if they consider themselves conservative.


    • Dand has previously made a good case that some of the countries are actually rebounding. Which I think I hope to be true, though I need more information. I hope that my post on No One’s Expecting will be ready by next week and will hold back on talking about the United States until then.

      But Germany… Germany is in one of the most dire situations. I don’t think it’s so easy to separate the economic from the environmental. The more economically strapped a place is, the harder it is going to be to convince them that even though coal is cheaper, it’s important that they make the transition to wind power (or solar, or whatever). There may be modest benefits as far as clean rivers and such are concerned. Or maybe not, if people are more focused on economic concerns than environmental.

      As far as the cultural thing goes, I think that represents a false dichotomy. We don’t need a reproduction rate below 1.5 to avoid the kinds of things that you’re concerned about. I don’t think we need it below replacement level.

      The only hesitation I have in worrying about this is the extent to which we are entering that post-employment economy that simply needs less labor and those worried about fertility rates are looking at yesterday’s economic dynamics. I’ll be talking about that next week (hopefully).


    • Another issue is that we are no longer a largely agricultural nation. We don’t need a ton of children to start helping out with the family farm from age 8 or so or with sweatshop work.


    • Lee, I don’t think anyone’s saying that global fertility rate is too low; people are saying that the rate in many developed countries is too low. Nor would raising the rate to above replacement require a return of traditional gender norms (I don’t blame you for thinking it would, most people in the US who are concerned about the fertility rate are misogynists and/or racists). Iceland has the highest fertility rate in the developed world and has very non-traditional gender norms while countries in southern Europe and East Asia with traditional gender norms have very low birth rates.


      • If the fertility rates in the developed world are too low but the ones in the developing world are still relatively high, I’m fine with just using immigration to make up for the difference.

        Governments trying to increase or decrease the fertility rate is something that I’m not really fond of or think is a good idea. Too many potential problems for both.


      • Germany has had difficulty attracting immigrants since immigrants tend to prefer English speaking countries and Asian countries don’t have any history of immigration.

        There isn’t really much evidence that governments can control fertility, in the first half of the 20th century there was lots concern about fertility government tried various policies to raise the fertility rate a nothing seemed to work, then around 1940 fertility rates started to rise.


  6. Adding to my comment above, in the past older unmarried women were called spinsters or maiden aunts and tended to act as auxillaries to families, providing additional support. They weren’t supposed to or really allowed to have romantic or sexual relationships. Even if they lived alone and had their own careers, they were still made to maintain proper appearances at all time. If they worked as something like a teacher or a librarian than they mere hint of impropriety could cost them their jobs. Before Prohibtion, they couldn’t even go into a saloon and get a drink those were strictly male only preserves. The only way that unmarried women could live an even partly hedonistic lifestyle was to be really rich or to be in bohemian circles. Naturally, this made marriage and family more attractive options for women.

    Bachelor men had more freedom and a could have sex but even this usually invovled going to a prostitute rather than having sex with a girlfriend (assuming heterosexuality). They also faced a lot of insecurity and tended to be socially suspect to. Homosexuality was off limits for both genders obviously unless they really wanted to take a lot of risks.

    Increasing fertility involves going back to the day of the maiden aunt, the spinster, and the semi-suspect bachelor who needs to pay for sex. Who really wants to go back to this?


    • Since I was old enough to understand such things, I’ve always read a strong undercurrent of homosexuality in the writings from ages past concerning “confirmed bachelors” and “maiden aunts.” That is to say, my presumption is that these are code words, and their “friends” or “companions” or “house-mates” are actually their lovers and everyone knows it and no one talks about it overtly.


      • Thats my impression to. A lot of famous single woman of the 19th and early 20th century like Jane Addams or Frances Willard were probably, although we can only speculate, homosexual. Both of them had life-long female companions and their relationship seemed romantic even if we can’t know whether or not it was sexual.


      • Probably true for some but not all. There is also the term “Boston Marriage”

        There is probably a lot of coding in 19th Century literature that would be easily recognizable to the original audience but is missed on modern audiences. A darker version of this is The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I once read an article or heard a lecture somewhere argue that the original 19th century audience would immediately understand that the children were victims of sexual abuse and the ghosts were abusers.

        Here it is under major themes. The argument comes from Craig Raine:


    • The decline in fertility is more about a reduction in the number of children families have rather than an increase in people going childless, and the fertility rate isn’t much lower than it was 90 years ago.


  7. [A6] I’ve long, long thought that electing judges is bad social policy. I don’t need to read no stinkin’ article to tell me why — in order to fairly and impartially apply the law, judges sometimes have to rule in favor of very unpopular parties. Presidents and Governors and legislators get to do things with their power because it is (what they think) the people want them to do. Judges must do things with their power because it is what the law requires them to do.

    Engaging Herculean intellectual labor to bend the law to permit a popular result is not so different from simply ignoring the law at all. Unless you believe, as do the Legal Realists, that the law has no separate existence apart from a judge’s will. In which case a democratic kritocracy is probably at least marginally better than an appointive kritocracy.


  8. S2: The only thing that approaches the furstratingness of the Occupy movement itself, for me, is the commentary on the Occupy movement. That piece, while interesting, is so filled with judgement that I found it hard to make it through (plus the author is a bit enamored with himself).

    I look forward to dispassionate assessments of the Occupy movement in a decade or so. Until then, we’ll get stuff like this — interesting and self-righteous at the same time, and blatantly biased (either pro or con, depending on the source).


  9. [S1] I’m not sure how seriously I can take any article that starts off with this canard:

    You can’t go to a grocery store because you have no time to cook (although if you did go, you’d notice that most of the healthier items cost more than the heavily marketed junk).

    It has a link that shows that this is based on an absurd research methodology that found that healthy foods cost more per calorie than unhealthy foods. Of course, healthy foods are much less calorie dense than unhealthy foods, which is exactly what makes them healthy, so all this sort of study points out is that 8 pounds of spinach does in fact cost more than one bag of potato chips.

    I can’t figure out why it’s regrettable that people actively dislike obese figures and like thin ones.


      • I disagree. I actively dislike obesity, both in myself and others, but I’m also not an a**hole (well, not too much of an a**hole), so I don’t go around shaming or abusing overweight people. What’s needed isn’t fat acceptance, but good old-fashioned common decency.

        Like or not, much of the mechanisms of attraction are hardwired. We are attracted to facial symmetry. We are attracted to a certain hip-to-waist ration. We are attracted to clear skin more than blemishes. Why should we feel bad about any of this? It’s not how you feel that matters. It’s how you behave.

        ps – I have no problem conceding that there are lots of exceptions to what people are attracted to, but that doesn’t change my overall point.


      • Ahhh. I was referring specifically to action. People are attracted to what they’re attracted to, and like what they like. There’s no getting around that. Acting decently may be all that we can ask, though in my perfect world we wouldn’t moralize it in the personal or abstract, either. That’s probably more than I am ever going to get, though.


      • The ideal ratio varies slightly across geographic regions, but not by all that much. We’re talking between 0.6 and 0.8. The important thing is that men, even though they find women of varying size attractive, still have a preference for the hourglass shape.


      • What JR said. The research claims (there’s been some critique, but I’m not up on it) that whether the culturally shaped preference is for skinnier women or more Rubenesque women, there tends to be a consistency across cultures for a preference for women with a certain hip-waste ratio. The argument has an evolutionary basis, in that the preferred ratio apparently correlates with fertility and healthiness.


  10. Some how you missed the string theory video.

    String Theory

    It’s only been up for days and already has almost a million views. I’m not sure if Brian May is aware of it, but I’d hope so because he’s an astrophysicist who has to keep up with the latest advances in quantum theory and Queen songs.


      • Likewise.

        I was just about to send you an(other) e-mail about this radio show.
        Ray Suarez was on talking about Latinos. One thing he said really struck me: that his children and their friends are more embracing of the term “Latino,” while the older generations still prefer the terms denoting nationality.
        Which made me feel good in a way, because I never made that connection.
        That I prefer the point-of-origin terms are more or less a sign of the curmudgeonliness setting in (or gelling, more likely).
        More curmudgeonliness to come! I plan to get really good at this as I age . . .


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