Linky Friday #41

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Will Truman

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

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  1. Avatar greginak
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    G1- McMegan gets some unfair crap because people don’t think much of her in general so they are harsh on everything she says. Then again she gets some appropriate criticism for weak sauce like this. All her words boil down to: path dependence is a thing and spending on infrastructure needs to be done wisely. Okay enough, but i’d sure like to collect a paycheck for dispensing such wisdom. Of course she really doesn’t talk about how to do things well, just throws out some stories that fit her mostly banal point. But since we are going to have some infrastructure, how to do it well seems to be the really good question.

    But if what she says is true about the Tappen Zee, then at least that was interesting. But i’ll give her this, this column was far better than her recent silly attempt to explain how the R’s cutting food stamps but still giving out Ag subsidies was really and truly logically consistent while also displaying she doesn’t know how ag subsidies or food stamps work. It’s not her opinions that are wrong its just that she is often factually challenged.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to greginak
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      It’s also the moral certainty she displays while drawing ridiculous conclusions based on shocking ignorance.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to greginak
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      says:

      I didn’t even realize it was a McMeagan article when I read it.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak
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      I thought that the piece made a very, very good point. The point that our hospitals tend to be particularly (and unnecessarily) nice has been made, and that it contributes to the cost of our health care has been mentioned. However, I hadn’t seen the stubbornness of these costs – how hard they would be to attack or reduce – made in quite such a manner before. And that is despite the fact that I have written posts about the unnecessary demolition and improvement of hospital facilities. All of these infrastructure investments have been made, among other things, with a dependence on future earnings. I’m not sure this is something we keep sufficiently in mind when we talk about alleviating these costs.

      None of this makes infrastructure spending itself wrong. I don’t think the author would disagree with that (provocative title aside). But it does mean that we need to keep an eye out for the infrastructure improvements we have control over. Not just because of the initial costs, but because of the obligations they impose on tomorrow. I suppose I particularly like the point because it touches on something that has long been on my mind from a cultural (though not governmental) standpoint: how our expectations get in the way of our advancement and security. A topic for another day.

      As best as I can determine, her argument about the consistency between stamps/subsidies is independent of the logistics. It’s about the philosophy of supporting some kinds of spending to private individuals and corporations while opposing spending to more needy individuals. There is actually a huge hole in her argument, as best as I can see, but it’s not at all dependent on what you refer to. How would “knowing how ag subsidies and food stamps work” negate the point that she is making?

      As for McArdle herself, I am certainly glad that my blog posts are not judged by the standards of whatever standard her blog posts are judged by.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman
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        How would “knowing how ag subsidies and food stamps work” negate the point that she is making?

        Her point is that ag subsidies go to people who are working while food stamps go to layabouts, and that there’s some logic in preferring the former to the latter. That point is negated by the facts that ag subsidies are paid to keep land fallow and food stamps go to the working poor.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Will Truman
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        Thank you for the clarification. The subsidies to farmers you refer to were eliminated in the House and Senate bills, though. And before that were a relatively small portion of the subsidies anyway. What percentage of ag subsidy recipients didn’t grow versus food stamp recipients didn’t work?

        (FTR, I do consider her argument to be pretty weak, though due primarily to the fact that Republicans have no problem cutting programs that are specifically directed at people who are working or producing something.)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        What percentage of ag subsidy recipients didn’t grow versus food stamp recipients didn’t work?

        I don’t know, but since I’m not the one making broad, sweeping generalizations about what sorts of people deserve help, I’m OK with that.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to greginak
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      The Tappan Zee was not built in the wrong place. Everyone from Westchester through Putnam County all the way to Albany knows why it was built where it was: Tappan Zee was a political beast,meant to fund the NY Thruway System, a predecessor of the Interstate Highway System. That much money meant the lions came out to feed. They came out to feed again, when it came time to replace Tappan Zee Bridge.

      Illinois is also the Land o’ Tolls, with the concomitant monkeyshines associated with that much US currency floating around. All such Authorities are vast political plum orchards.Report

  2. Avatar KatherineMW
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    The article on the Kurds is interesting, since it’s been conventional wisdom that Turkey is extremely, extremely opposed to an Iraqi Kurdistan on the basis that it would encourage separatism among Turkish Kurds. But the article doesn’t really provide any support for its contention that Iraq’s Kurds are making a real move for full political independence, just that they’re using their considerable autonomy to pursue an economic policy the Iraqi central government doesn’t like.Report

  3. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    SC3- I’ve heard a bit about this crazy idea. Its never going to happen. The tech and health challenges are just far to large to be launching anybody to Mars on there time frame. I’m not sure if its a scam or just publicity for a tv show about a mission that will never happen, but its still a no go. In any case there are already plenty of reality tv “stars” we should be shooting off into cold dark space before recruiting new ones.Report

  4. Avatar Kazzy
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    R2:

    That is fucked up. Really fucked up. If the story is more or less as reported and it is true that the current sisters would/wanted to accept the black pledges but alumnae prevented them, that’s really fucked up.

    However, I don’t think we should let the current sisters entirely off the hook. They could say, “We’re taking them no matter what. You want to withhold funding? We’ll do without it or find it elsewhere, among our alumnae who aren’t a bunch of racist ass hats.” So, they aren’t as powerless as they are presented as/present themselves to be.

    Furthermore, while I don’t know all the ins and outs of Greek life on college campuses (my college didn’t have a Greek system), I would think that the university should have some power in the matter, if not the state or federal government (seeing as how it is a public university). If it can be demonstrated (a big if) that this is indeed happening, the university should ban the sororities engage in the practice and, if they don’t do that, I would think that the government could or would have to intervene.

    And, oddly enough, Jesse Jackson makes a really fantastic point. I doubt these alumnae boycott Alabama football because of all the black guys on the team. In fact, I bet for many of them, football is one of the primary ways they stay connected with their alma mater. Not to mention the millions of dollars the football team brings in (especially recently) to the school, which isn’t lost on powerful alumnae. So they have no problem reaping all these rewards of the black members of their alma mater… but they’ll be damned if they’re going to let them into their private little social clubs. It’s disgusting. These people should be named and shamed for this behavior (again, assuming it is as reported).Report

    • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Kazzy
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      One thing I’ve never understood* about Greek systems was how they are affiliated with any given university. Are they just clubs that students at the university happen to join, or are they endorsed or otherwise supported by the university (say, use university land, use trademarked university logos)? If it’s more the former than the latter, I have a hard time seeing how frats/sororities could be banned (and yet, I know some campuses ban them).

      *In other words, I haven’t done the minimal Google typing to find out.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Pierre Corneille
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        Based on the few friends I knew who were in them elsewhere, they are usually deeply entrenched with the university. GW built a block of new frat houses. I’m sure some of the funding came from the different groups, but the university was involved.

        At my alma mater, most students lived on campus three years, venturing off campus during their junior year. As this was the year most turned 21 and the common living arrangement was a giant house packed with people. We called these “BC frats” because they had a lot of the typical trappings of frat life, without the formal organization. I’ve had people explain to me that frats and sororities are about much more than just partying, which I’m sure is true, so I could imagine that a lack of university endorsement would severely limit this.

        The whole thing never interested me. It always smacked of paying for friends and needless elitism. I never felt the need to be part of a special club, frat or otherwise. But I’m wired that way. I know frats ain’t all bad. But when they do shit like this? Ugh.

        Oh, and an interesting note is that some Boston schools did have Greek life, but there were no sorority houses, which meant few actual sororities. Apparently Massachusetts had a law on the books that said more than 4 or 5 unrelated women living together was qualified as a brothel and therefore illegal.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Pierre Corneille
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        I think the official answer is that it is complicated. Frats are old. The oldest ones were established in the late 1700s or early 1800s. So they can be entwined with university life deeply.

        My school did not have a Greek system. I know other schools where frats exist on campus in an official or semi-official Greek Row. I’m guessing these buildings were built and purchased by wealthy alums. Other schools seem to be officially Greek free but have underground or off-campus frat and sorority housing.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraternities_and_sororities

        The history section seems informative and that some of the early frats were more scholarly but they seemed to quickly extend into ways of determining who has privilege or not and gets to keep said privilege. Social hierarchy basically.Report

      • Thanks @newdealer and @kazzy

        I used to be very critical of frats/sororities as ways to “buy friends” or get and maintain exclusive privileges. I’m a little less so, now, if only because I realize most of my circle of friends I have through my class status, and in a sense, I “purchased” that status through my connections. And although I have a (sometimes pathological) hangup about my working-class and provincial (but also relatively affluent) upbringing, I have been able, so far, to obtain and maintain privilege in ways that have at least some similarities to what frats/sororities supposedly do.

        Add to all that the fact that I don’t know much about these organizations, I’m a little less quick to judge them in the abstract than I used to be. Of course, the specific instance in the linked to story, however complicated, is judgeable, as are the rumors of date rape culture that are often associated with frats. I’m certainly not saying that doesn’t exist, just that I don’t know if it does and if it does, I don’t know how pervasive it is.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy
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      Kazzy, I absolutely agree that the kids are not off the hook. Neither is the school administration. I would argue that there are mitigating factors, however, in what their culpability means. Which is to say, they are under unique pressures that most of us are not. We all like to think that if we were in their position, we would of course do The Honorable Thing. (I think that 35 year old me would, I am less sure about 19 year old me and not because I have become more liberal on racial issues.)

      That doesn’t mean that the right answer is to forgive, forget, and overlook, though. They have a particular challenge, and a particular opportunity to make a difference in a way that comparatively few get. I’d also point out that their reward for actually doing something about this is often going to be criticism not just from racists, which is why I get antsy when efforts at progress are met with derision that such progress is even necessary. (ie if Alabama got rid of its odious and racist, the story would be how terrible Alabama is for having this in their charter up until now and not that they actually made the effort to change it.)

      The other thing really notable about it, though, is that it is indicative of how deeply baked in the problem is. Here you have a bunch of young people who want to change things (presumably – I believe them) but would be punished by their own benefactors and boosters if they actually tried to affect the change. And a university with leadership that I have no doubt is embarrassed by it, but has to walk a line that the administrators at Ohio State simply don’t (at least not nearly to the same degree).

      You’re right that nobody here is powerless. But some people are caught up in systems that impose a cost of change in a societal structure that I am glad that I personally only had minimal dealings with.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        Some great points, Will.

        This also shows just how destructive racism is. While the white sorority sisters are not victims in any way approaching the way that black applicants were, they still suffer a certain harm because of the existence and power of racism in their context.

        That is one thing I try to point out to my students whenever we talk about Martin Luther King. One book talks about King’s life as a child (how much of it is fictionalized, I don’t know, but it was written by his sister so I assume it is relatively true or at least trueish). It talks about the white neighbors they played with until the white parents intervened. The picture shows both groups of children upset. Racism ultimately harms all that it touches. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely ways that white people benefit from racism. But there are some real downsides that are often unexamined.

        Can you expand more on the difference between ‘Bama and OSU? Do you mean that the powers that be at the former are under more pressure not to act because of more widely accepted racism within the community?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman
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        The impression I have is that this has been going on for many years, and what’s new is that the one girl had the courage to speak out publicly in her own name. (The ones corroborating her story are doing so anonymously.) That may not sound like much, but the fact that she’s the first only illustrates the pressure they’re under to conform and not rock the boat.

        Kazzy makes a good point about football. If the school administration wants to deal with this, all they need to do is invoke the name of Bear Bryant, who integrated the Alabama football team and is slightly more popular down there than Jesus.Report

  5. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    Sa1:

    Thank you for touching on the cultural and class issues here. That they are so often missed in conversations like this (even by me sometimes) is really frustrating. The thing is, mowing the lawn was one of those things that was seen as a way that a young kid showed his maturity once-upon-a-time. Hell, you were expected to mow the lawn as soon as you were able to! That’s how things got done! You don’t want to be a lazy slob like those people, do ya? Go out and mow the lawn!

    Of course, now that that slice of society doesn’t need to mow their own lawns, they completely flip on the matter and pretend the prior world never existed. Mowing the lawn? At 16? The humanity! Those people are monsters for letting their kids do such dirty, dangerous work. Well, that’s just how it is with those people.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy
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      I hope to write a post on this in the future. I went ahead and ran this as an LF item in case I didn’t. The social and cultural factors are really interesting to think about.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        Along those same lines is apple picking (or pumpkin picking or strawberry picking or…).

        If your job was to pick apples… well then… we know the proper place for you.

        But if you are so situated that you can drive out to the country and spend twice as much on apples as you might at WalMart… well, by all means, you should probably start a Pinterest about it!

        It really boggles the mind.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      Oh the jobs I had around the house & in my community growing up (from about the age of 12 on):

      Paper Boy
      Setting pins in a mini-bowling alley
      mowing lawns
      shoveling snow
      raking leaves
      milking cows
      driving tractors
      cleaning up at a butcher shop
      etc.Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    G1- I understand what the article is saying on cost control but that really has nothing to do with our infrastructure problems. The problem with a lot of our infrastructure is that its badly in need of repair and if it isn’t fixed a lot of really bad accidents and disasters could happen. We also have a lot of public transportation projects that are planned and should be built.

    Sa1-This is part of the disappearance of a child’s right to roam. In the past, parents would think nothing of letting their kids wonder about the local area but these days you can get into serious trouble for it. Sprawl is one reason for this because it makes exploration more hazardous than traditional rural and urban settings but it also has to do a lot with how we hyper-manage kids schedules. Giving kids the free time to roam is seen as detrimental to their success latter in life.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq
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      G1,

      It always surprises me to learn that bridges and other major pieces of infrastructure are built with 50-year lifespans or something therein. That is part of the problem with the Tappan Zee. Somehow they thought they wouldn’t need the bridge after the 80’s and didn’t build it to last longer than that. The fact that it is still standing is a bit of a miracle.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
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        @kazzy A lot of our bridges were built with short life spans because A) it was cheaper & we needed a lot of bridges; & B) Engineers knew that within 50 years we would be able to build better bridges that would last a lot longer.

        Part of B comes from how the stresses on bridges are computed (we just had this problem come to light here in Mount Vernon, WA when one of the old bridges failed & dropped in the water). The structure of most bridges is a truss, with a road laid on it. A truss can be statically determinate or indeterminate. Computing the loads in a statically determinate truss is something any 1st or 2nd year engineering student can do, because that truss has exactly the number of load bearing members (beams, etc.) that it needs to carry it’s load, no more, no less. The problem is the whole “no more” part, in that if one member or joint fails, the bridge is no longer safely able to carry it’s full load.

        A statically indeterminate truss has redundant members, so beams & joints can fail and it can still be safe, but computing that truss is extremely difficult to do by hand. It pretty much requires the use of Finite Element methods & a decent computer. Today we can compute such structures easily. Back in the 50’s, not so much.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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        @mad-rocket-scientist

        Sometimes I look at thousand-year-old buildings like the pyramids or Coliseum and wonder why we struggle to build things that last a century. Is it about usage patterns? The Tappan Zee has how many thousands of cars and trucks a day while the Coliseum held people and maybe animals. I’m sure there is a good reason for it, but at first glance, it seems screwy.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
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        @kazzy

        When your engineering understanding & mathematical methods are (relatively) primitive, you wind up over-engineering the hell out of things, spend obscene amounts of money to build it, & are limited in what you can do, but they last a very long time.

        When you have a better understanding of materials & mathematics, you can do a lot more with a lot less, but there is still a cost involved. We could build bridges that last a couple of centuries, but the cost would be outrageous & you may not enjoy the aesthetic.

        Also, remember that the ancient world did not have to pay its construction crews Union wages while OSHA was looking over their shoulder.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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        Thanks for your perspective, @mad-rocket-scientist . It has been most informative.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
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        The Brooklyn Bridge is a case in point of just such over-engineering. What nobody anticipated (except perhaps Roebling himself) was how the bridge would need to support more weight as time went by.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Kazzy
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        @mad-rocket-scientist

        When your engineering understanding & mathematical methods are (relatively) primitive, you wind up over-engineering the hell out of things, spend obscene amounts of money to build it, & are limited in what you can do, but they last a very long time.

        I got quite a chuckle out of this. Growing up as I did, yankee ingenuity and all that, I’m quite familiar with things people over-engineer (often combined with under engineering). Makes for some fascinating construction. Thank you for the laugh.

        And more to your point: Good public infrastructure management, a function of government, requires planning, reserving funds for maintenance, and when necessary, complete rebuilding. Good engineers are essential, both structural and civic. And a very large part of good civil engineering is, I think, helping explain to the public how to balance those costs. I tried to do that when I wrote about public works projects; it is not easy.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kazzy
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        There’s a term of art, “giveaway”, which means the amount of money you spend making something better than it has to be. In oil refining, for instance, of you’re selling gasoline at 89 octane, it has to be at least that (if the regulators finds it isn’t, you face huge penalties), but for every bit above, you’re wasting money on unneeded processing and additives. So refiners get very good at eliminating giveaway by making gas that’s very precisely ever so slightly above 89. Likewise, engineering firms that want to submit low but profitable bids get very good at building a bridge that does exactly what’s required but no more.Report

      • Avatar kenB in reply to Kazzy
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        If only programmers were aware of that concept.

        A novice programmer was once assigned to code a simple financial package.

        The novice worked furiously for many days, but when his master reviewed his program, he discovered that it contained a screen editor, a set of generalized graphics routines, an artificial intelligence interface, but not the slightest mention of anything financial.

        When the master asked about this, the novice became indignant. “Don’t be so impatient,” he said, “I’ll put in the financial stuff eventually.”

        (from The Tao of Programming, in case it wasn’t obvious)Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kazzy
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        MRS,
        Round here, steel was cheap, and prototypes were in style.
        We’re the county with the most bridges in the United States.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
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        you wind up over-engineering the hell out of things

        No kidding. I had to replace some corner trim on my 19th century house recently. The piece was held on by an ungodly number of square tenpenny nails. The trim was adding to the structural strength of the house, which is a bit silly, But we’re talking original trim, ovet 100 years old. No way are my replacement pieces put in with my trim nailer likely to last that long.

        And that kind of bothers me.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Kazzy
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        Perhaps sometime I’ll do a sizeable post about materials science & how it influences design, yadda yadda.

        Suffice it to say that in our modern world, we have a design aesthetic that eschews the blocky & robust (it is often seen as quaint, impressive, but not how things are done nowadays). As Blaise points out, the Brooklyn bridge, and other bridges of that era, are prime examples of the last great hurrah of such designs. Now MikeS’s point about giveaways rules the day. Every bit of additional capacity or longevity you add to a project adds cost.

        With municipal projects, it’s often a case of capability vs cost vs longevity, and politicians are not always good about taking the long view. 50 years is plenty long enough if the cost is kept reasonable. Plus, modern cities can grow pretty fast. In 50 years, that 4 lane bridge may need to be replaced with a 6 or 8 lane one anyway.

        With roads & bridges, I think the total cost of replacement is something else politicians forget. They know the cost to build it will go up, naturally, but they forget (or ignore) the additional costs, such as tearing down the old one, the economic impact of those who depend on the road/bridge, and the wear & tear on the structures that will take on the overflow.

        Sorry to keep going on, I worked for the Civil Engineering Department for quite a few years while I was in school, I had lots of fascinating discussions with the faculty.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to LeeEsq
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      @leeesq
      I understand what the article is saying on cost control but that really has nothing to do with our infrastructure problems. The problem with a lot of our infrastructure is that its badly in need of repair

      Actually, I think that’s exactly the point. Infrastructure needs repair. It’s not a one-time cost. But when we’re planning it we tend to treat it as a one-time cost.Report

  7. Avatar LeeEsq
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    Sc4-Have vegetarians and vegans ever thought about whats going to happen to the domestic animals once humans stop using animal products? When horses became less needed, we killed them in mass rather than taking care of them to their death. If humans stopped using leather and whole, eating meat, dairy, and eggs than I imagine all the cows, sheep, chickens, and goats would face slaughter like the horses did.Report

  8. Avatar Chris
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    O2: I went to a seminar with a bunch of economists reporting on different sectors of the Texas and national economy about a year ago, and the oil and natural gas guy talked about how much they were relying on rail to move oil and natural gas from the ND/Montana shale fields, and I couldn’t help but thinking, “Damn it, why did I not invest in rail 5 years ago?”Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris
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      Rail in the USA is more trouble than it’s worth. The rail beds are in terrible shape, signalling infrastructure sucks, the rolling stock is a graffiti-encrusted mess, the locomotives are rumbling headlong into the 1980s. What’s not to love? Rail is only an answer if you can’t build a pipeline. Rockefeller broke Vanderbilt and the railways with pipelines.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to BlaiseP
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        Building a pipeline for ND oil is problematic for a couple of reasons. First, their customers are refineries with some spare capacity; those are on the Gulf Coast, the West Coast, and to a lesser degree, the Midwest. That’s not one pipeline, that’s three, and they’re all long. Second, based on current drilling/completion rates and now-known well depletion rates, all the reasonable models say that the production rate peaks in 2014/15 at less than a million barrels per day, and then begins a steady decline. The official State of ND forecast says late 2014 and 850,000 bpd. And if oil prices were to decline very much from current prices, drilling would come to a halt and the decline would be dramatic. An ND pipeline has a lot of financial risk associated with it.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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        That’s all true, and worth putting into the variables. But rail has its own problems: running all that oil down these rickety old tracks can lead to this sort of outcome. Which isn’t to say pipelines are all that safe, mind you. Just observing we’ve neglected the necessary and proper upkeep of our railroad infrastructure, with predictably horrible results.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to BlaiseP
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        Can’t disagree with any of that, but it does remind me of my hypothesis that the infrastructure “need” has a substantial regional component. I live in a metro area that has grown by 2% per year for the last 20 years. We have built vast amounts of new sewers, power, roads,… For example, the state allowed Xcel to add a third coal-fired unit to a local power plant, but required that the entire plant be brought up to state-of-the-art emissions control (excluding CO2). The three-unit plant has significantly less total emissions than the two-unit plant did before the expansion. OTOH, Greater Cleveland, with a slightly smaller population (today), is essentially the same size as it was in 1960. Ohio is complaining bitterly about having to bring coal-fired plants up to contemporary emissions standards. Overall, our infrastructure is almost certainly much newer than Cleveland’s.

        I live 300 yards from a single-track rail line. Every three hours or so a 100-car coal train rolls through. BNFS has lavished a great deal of attention to maintaining that line since about 1995, when the federal SO2 emission trading program made western low-sulfur coal very attractive. Less than half of the coal mined here in Colorado is burned here; the remainder is shipped, by rail, to points farther east.

        One of these days I need to start digging for the data. Actually, I need minions to do the digging — or at least graduate students.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris
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      Chris, all you need to do is figure out what you’ll be saying that about five years from now. Invest heavily in that today, and you’ll be golden!Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Chris
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      says:

      I’m not gassy!Report

  9. Avatar LeeEsq
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    Sc3-What happens when the audience looses interest in the show? I’m rather serious about. You can’t do going to Mars as a normal reality TV show because the fake drama of Reality TV is going to make an already dangerous endeavor much worse. For long space flights, you need people who can basically mute their personalities and desires in order for the common good. This will make the journey to Mars easier but more boring for a vieweing audience, especially over the long stretches of the voyage where nothing interesting happens. You can’t cancel funding for a mission because the ratings aren’t coming in.Report

  10. Avatar Vikram Bath
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    Sc6: Sigh. They link to and excerpt a Popular Science article saying “They were better at finding hidden food in the room when the social robot pointed to it, rather than the asocial one, though neither held a candle to the results when a human pointed to the food.

    From this, they conclude “your dogs are happy to play with robots instead of you” and title their post “Dogs basically don’t care if you are a robot or a human”.

    WIll, how does it feel dangling from that line? Because you were just link-baited.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Vikram Bath
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      says:

      You read the article? That’s cheating!

      You are, of course, right about the content. The results were interesting all the same, though. I do feel a bit bad about playing along with it when the study actually says something different (and PopSci’s article actually says something different, once you look beyond the title). The interesting angle – the one I should have taken – is how similar this is to humans and their fake pets, from Dogz/Catz to Tamagotchis.Report

  11. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    R2 follow up:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/17/us/alabama-sororities-told-to-increase-diversity.html

    The NY Times also has a good story on the sorority exposing itself and the pressure for alum members.Report

  12. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist
    Ignored
    says:

    [C4] – I would have bet on this to be North Korea.

    [Sc4] – Neat article, but how was the burger? Was it good? Would a little A1 sauce go a long way?Report

  13. Avatar zic
    Ignored
    says:

    @will-truman bait: Sy Hersh: Bin Laden Assassination a Lie

    (Headline does not reflect the real story, which is really about Hersh’s upcoming book, and from what I’d consider to be a lefty source that leans toward propaganda.)Report

  14. Avatar Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    I know this isn’t really the point of G1, but the mention of Singapore’s high savings rates reminded me of China’s remarkably high personal savings rate, around 50%. The fact that people with only a fraction of the American median household income manage to save half their incomes really puts the lie to the claim by Elizabeth Warren and her ilk that the American middle class just can’t afford to save.Report

  15. Avatar Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    R3: I don’t see why anyone would object to this. Where better to put white supremacists than in a place far away from any non-white people?Report

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