Linky Friday #42

Will Truman

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

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52 Responses

  1. krogerfoot says:

    Re W2, “lazy Mexicans” is a surefire marker of someone with absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.Looks like the hardest-working countries’ scores are boosted in part by their workers’ tendency to curtail their retirement by dying young.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to krogerfoot says:

      In a fit of rage, I once yelled at some Guatemalans who were supposed to be doing some work for me. “It seems every hard working, enterprising Guatemalan has already gone to The North (USA), leaving only the likes of you.”Report

  2. Glyph says:

    [C4] – I remember catching CC with college friends on SNL, and all of us being blown away by “Round Here”. I sold the album long ago, but that song is still on my iPod. My roommate really liked them a lot, so we went and saw them play at the local club. It was pretty enjoyable, and they even played some really good cover tune for an encore (given that they only had the one album at the time, it wasn’t a long show) that I am racking my brains right now to remember.

    “In Utero is the fourth-best rock album of the ’90s, behind Radiohead’s OK Computer, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, and Guided by Voices’ Alien Lanes.” OK Computer isn’t the best rock album of the 90’s. It’s not even Radiohead’s best album. But he included Loveless and Alien Lanes, so I’ll let it slide.

    [C6] Pseudonymity is under siege. Which is good

    No, it’s not. At all.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

      Counting Crows always returns me to a memory of one of my daughter’s friends, one of those girls you just know is going to write an important novel, maybe several. A low, quiet voice, hard to say how self-assured she was, but just horribly observant. And Counting Crows was her favourite band.Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to Glyph says:

      Creepy – as I was reading this comment, ‘Round Here popped up on my Pandora.Report

  3. Burt Likko says:

    [C6] The principal reason for piercing pseudonymity seems to be to curb bad behavior — and the proposition that forcing people to giving their true identities accomplishes this goal is dubious. The second half of the article suggests that the issue is mostly solved if non-governmental transactions are conducted using a persistent identity, and whether a legal name is attached to that identity is unimportant. Based at least on the all-important data point of myself, this seems like a better strategy. I protect Burt Likko’s reputation with similar care as I use to protect [redacted]‘s reputation, and for similar reasons.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I guess I have an issue with the whole “curbing bad behavior” part. I agree that it’s dubious that it works all that well.

      But let’s assume it does – even if so, all we’ve done is discourage some people from being jerks online (some percentage of which may not even be true trolls with ill intent – they just might be people with poor social skills, or mentally ill).

      IOW, we’ve prevented some people from “being mean with their words”, a juvenile accomplishment at best.

      Meanwhile, by shedding the thin shield of privacy and protection a pseudonym affords, we’ve handed corporations and the government (and our employers, and everybody) a huge treasure trove of data about ourselves, to be easily mined for their own purposes.

      Will that really “curb bad behavior”?

      Or will it give a whole world of people who have demonstrably engaged in bad behavior, a whole new set of weapons easily to hand?Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Glyph says:

        As soon as we forcibly expose factual identities, they will be misappropriated by others. The current disaster over at Adobe is just another instance of such a problem emerging.Report

      • Dan Miller in reply to Glyph says:

        I take your point about handing a weapon to corporations, employers, and the government. But I would suggest that you’re underplaying the seriousness of antisocial behavior, misogyny, and racism on the Internet. Read this, for instance, about a band with a female singer; or this, from a woman whose photo went viral online; or basically any story from a woman who’s even moderately well known on the Internet. People are willing to say things online that are horrifying, and it’s a real barrier to participation in Internet culture for a huge chunk of the population. I’m not advocating for a law or anything like that (it would be both wrong and ineffective, and frankly I can’t think of how to solve this); but at a minimum, this should be acknowledged as a problemReport

      • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

        It would appear that they stole some of Adobe’s source code.
        The next day, they tried to give it back.

        //attn: this is a joke about how bad Adobe’s source code is.
        Photoshop in particular is awful.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        @dan-miller – I saw that Chvrches thing several places and while I don’t envy the swamp of BS that any famous person, let alone a famous female, has to wade through, one thing I didn’t see addressed by her or in the comments anywhere was the likely percentage of those comments coming from 13-year-old boys.

        Rather than force people to use real names, we’d probably get better results banning all 13-year-old boys from the internets (web traffic would probably drop 80%).

        It’s a problem, but it doesn’t seem like a new one to me. People are mean. People have always been mean.

        The dynamic as I see it is this: as one becomes more visible, one becomes exposed to more predators – the sharks and the jackals. We seem to be thinking we can get sharks and jackals to change their stripes (to switch metaphorical animals for a minute) by forcing them to use their real names.

        A more effective strategy would be to allow the “prey” to retain his or her “camouflage”, via pseudonymity/anonymity.

        One reason among many that performers have long-used stage names is for exactly the purpose of protecting, to some degree, the real person inside from vicious mob-mentality attacks. Sure, it’s thin protection (and getting ever-thinner), but it at least prevents the casual griefer from hassling them too much at their home. Those with ill intent have to put in *some* effort.

        Lauren Mayberry appears to have foregone that strategy, and that’s her choice; but the next Lauren Mayberry should be allowed the protection of anonymity should she wish it, and not be forced to use her real name, in the hopes that the sharks and jackals will behave better next time.Report

      • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

        Glyph’s gotta point.
        You’d be shocked how many hollywood types
        you can’t tell who they are without the makeup.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        I was thinking about my “online anonymity/pseudonymity as camouflage” analogy, and the more I do, the more it seems like requiring real names wouldn’t really solve the problem, and may create others.

        I feel like the number of people who would be really horrible to someone, just because they are pseudonymous, is dwarfed by the number of people who wouldn’t do that. To switch animals one more time, think of the internet troll or griefer as a lion, who needs a much larger population of antelopes (non-trolls) to subsist on. What’s your anecdotal-experience ratio of internet a-holes to internet non-a-holes? 1 : 20? 1 : 100?

        Both lions and antelopes use camouflage and concealment (anonymity/pseudonymity) in their survival strategies; the lion to hunt the antelope; the antelope to evade the lion.

        Requiring everyone to drop that strategy just takes all the tan lions, and all the tan antelopes, and paints them all bright red.

        Lion’s still a lion (and trolls gotta troll). And now he can see the antelopes better. He can do more damage.

        He even knows the antelope’s home address now.

        We’ve taken a strategy that is somewhat effective away from everybody (disempowered them), in an attempt to disempower the lion; worse, we may be giving the lions more info about their victims than they had before.

        And the next lion that shows up? The one that we missed, the tan one who figured out how to get around the “real name” requirement? He’s gonna have a veldt day with all those easy-to-see bright red antelopes.

        When pseudonyms are outlawed, only outlaws will have pseudonyms, basically.Report

      • KatherineMW in reply to Glyph says:

        Glyph – Your point is an excellent one. It’s creepy enough already that job applications involve employers looking for/at everything you’ve ever posted on Facebook. People should have the right to some semblance of a private life that isn’t known to companies, employers, and the government.

        There are jerks on the Internet, but getting rid of anonymity seems like a solution much worse than the problem. If you accept that there are a lot of jerks on the Internet, you can limit your serious conversations to sites that are dominated by decent people (like here) and ignore any responses you get on major sites like Twitter.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

      The problem I have is that we don’t have a clear idea of what “bad behavior” is. Showing support for gay marriage could be considered “bad behavior” in some communities and get someone fired. Similarly, expressing conservative ideas might be considered “bad behavior” in another community and result in consequences. Some careers require that people maintain a relatively vanilla public profile when it comes to politics and the like. The inability to post anonymously/confidentially would curtail these people from taking part in online dialogues.Report

  4. LeeEsq says:

    S1-Maybe we could use the jellyfish invasion as a way to get the general public to take climate change seriously. Threaten that they never get to go to the beach again if climate change continues at its current past.

    C1-I think the general rule should be that if your relationship with your roommate isn’t entirely platonic than its something more than a roommate relationship. That way we could distinguish between live-in romantic/sexual partners and roommates.Report

  5. Burt Likko says:

    [E5] More interesting to me in this month’s Atlantic was the article about the journalist who did his daughter’s homework for a week — and found its burdens and tedium soul-crushing, sleep-destroying, and most of all, counterproductive to higher-order education. “Memorization, not rationalization,” was the tactic his daughter taught him to cope with the hours of work involved. She could conjugate Spanish verbs like champ but did not know what the words meant.

    It was something of a revelation to me to learn that schools routinely assign three and sometimes as much as six hours of homework a night to middle school students, and this indeed seems like too much. If teachers have to rely on that much out-of-class work to supplement the in-class work they are doing, then it seems that either the teachers are lazy or ineffective (something I strongly doubt) or the curricular goals they are assigned are too ambitious. Given the probability of the latter, a further parsing might be needed — perhaps these teachers perceive themselves to be assigned a too-ambitious pedagogical goal by virtue of fear of the tests and evaluations coming at the end of the year.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Burt Likko says:

      How much of that 3-6 hours is just procrastination? When I was in school, my homework always expanded to fill the time available.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Most students are given too much homework. We have this conversation at work all the time. “I only give 30-40 minutes of work a night! That ain’t much.” Yes, but the kid has 7 other teachers all doing the same. It adds up quickly.

      Nightly homework should be about practicing that which was done in school during the day. When it is utilized to cover things that weren’t or couldn’t be taught in class, it misses the mark. Homework is not a time for new learning. It is a time for practice towards mastery. For some kids, this will mean a handful of questions/problems over a small time will suffice. Others might need more. For younger students, who can’t necessarily self-assess, a predetermined set of problems is appropriate (e.g., “Do numbers 1-15 on page 89.) For older students, one of the goals should be helping them to become more independent learners (e.g., “Today we worked on quadratic equations. There are sample problems on page 145. Come in tomorrow ready to move forward on this work. If you are still confused after tonight, see me in the morning.”)

      If a student routinely NEEDS 3-4 hours just to practice, there is probably more going on that homework isn’t going to solve.

      Project-based learning changes things, but is often implemented poorly.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Kazzy says:

        IIRC the same article that Burt mention stated that homework assignments and amounts seem to track very closely with national anxities about falling behind. Homework increased after the Soviets launched Sputnik first and then waned during the 60s until the 80s. They increased over fears about losing to Japan during the 1980s and then decreased again. Now we are worried about gloablization and remaining competitive and homework is increasing again.

        Another issue seems to be the constant human psychology of needing to make a big show of staying late and working hard. In certain circles being busy and staying late is a kind of status symbol because it shows you are “important” or something like that. Or it makes people feel important.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        I wonder if the current wave is in part related to more households where both parents work and/or work longer hours. The single biggest source of pressure for more and earlier homework is parents. It wouldn’t surprise me if parents who are less involved in their child’s life push for homework as some sort of substitute.

        The pressure isn’t universal… some parents do push back. But the “more” crowd tends to outnumber the “less” crowd.Report

  6. Kolohe says:

    S3: “The researchers estimate that the Earth will remain habitable for another 1.75 to 3.25 billion years.”

    Thats still seems like a fairly wide estimate. It’s like telling a 46 year old, ‘you’re going to live to be somewhere between 64 and 79 years old’.Report

  7. Mike Schilling says:

    [S2] General Relativity says that gravity curves space positively. S2 says that space is curved negatively. ????Report

    • Kim in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      General relativity is modeling spatial curves on a different scale. Gravity causes space to curve, ya? but the question is, how much gravity do we have? Since we’re looking at an open universe (continually expanding), we don’t have enough gravity to curve “overall” space positively.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Kim says:

        We don’t know how much gravity is out there. For General Relativity to hold up, we need preposterous quantities of Dark Matter, which my son believes is probably mythical, as were the Magnetic Monopoles of yore. It’s more likely that all this Dark Matter and Dark Energy hoo-hah describe serious shortcomings in our attempts to generalise General Relativity with our current scalars.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Kim says:

        Of course dark matter exists. What do you think happened to all that luminiferous aether we lost?

        I’m goin’ with noted astrophysicist, philosopher, and pot-smoker Isaac Brock, who tells us

        “The universe is shaped exactly like the earth / if you go straight long enough, you end up where you were”Report

      • Kim in reply to Kim says:

        I’ve read the papers disagreeing with Dark matter. They fail to convince.
        The rotation rate of galaxies is one of the key points of evidence for Dark Matter.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Kim says:

        … which isn’t to imply General Relativity is wrong. It’s just that our current models require something like Dark Matter to explain what we’re seeing.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Kim says:

        I don’t pretend to be an authority on this subject. My son says Dark Matter is an exceedingly awkward way to explain what other, simpler models can explain without the fuss and bother.Report

  8. Mike Schilling says:


  9. Kim says:

    God, don’t even fucking joke about that! Yes, people do worry about it (read get paid to fix it), because putting your feet on the seat and squatting has killed people (betcha that made some fun photos, septicemia isn’t pretty…).Report

  10. LeeEsq says:

    E5- Richard Hofstader made the same point decades ago in his classic book Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. I generally see sports as symptom rather than the problem when it comes to academic achievement in the United States. Kids who excell at academics, especially boys, are treated that kindly in American society.* Many American parents are also at least somewhat suspicious of intellectually challenging curriculum, especially in areas likely to challenge traditional beliefs and morality, like English, social studies, or the study of evolution. As a result, we invest a lot more in sports than academics because its what society as a whole wants even though it might result in doing less well compared to other schools.

    *Its not necessarily only a peer thing. A lot of adults are also suspicious of kids who do well academically because of latent American anti-intellectualism.Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I think you’re missing a critical “not” in that third sentence. This matches my own experience: in many US schools, the one thing you dare not be good at is academics. Fortunately, I was interested in a minor sport and lettered early on — wearing a letterman’s jacket spared me a considerable amount of grief I might have otherwise gone through. Going off to college was a considerable relief.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Your right, the third sentence is missing a critical not. To be sure America is a big place and there are plenty of public high school where sports aren’t a big deal or where academic achievement. Still, on average athletic and to a lesser extent artistic excellence is socially acceptible and academic success is not. Making matters worse, popular American culture as hero-worshiped jocks and cheerleaders as normal, wholesome teenagers and young people since the 1920s.

        I don’t think this is exclusively an American issue though. Other Anglophone countries seem to have the same problem to a lesser extent.Report

      • KatherineMW in reply to Michael Cain says:

        I’m not sure if there’s a difference between public and private schools generally, but I went to a small Christian school and academic excellent there was definitely valued. The top-achieving guys formed kind of a “nerd” subgroup (aka “the folks who program games on their graphic calculators”), but they didn’t generally get bothered for it. There were variations from grade to grade, of course.

        Academic excellence in girls was absolutely admired, and probably the most popular (and among the smartest, and best at sports, and prettiest – and nicest, to boot) was an exceptional student. The high-school stereotype of the popular kids being attractive, shallow jerks didn’t apply in the least – people were popular because they were genuinely likeable. I expect that the prevailing trend in most schools, contrary to what’s portrayed in fiction.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Michael Cain says:


        The American answer (you are Canadian, right?) in public v. private schools is that “it is complicated”

        There are some private schools where academic competition is fierce like Trinity, Dalton, Horace Mann, Riverside (all of these are New York examples). However, these might be recent developments. Many of these schools started as the high schools of the old WASP elite. Their students were going to be part of the meritocracy and ruling class by something close to birthright. They were almost destined to get into Yale and Harvard and whatnot. The concept was to get a “Gentlemen’s C” A respectable showing. A D or F would show a failing grade. A B or A would show you cared too much and lacked the ideal of effortless ease. It was the striving, poor, and usually immigrant and minority kids who worked hard and got good grades because they needed to. These schools tend to be much harder academically now because of broadening who gets admitted and other changes to society.

        There have always been public schools that stressed academics. Again these were usually filled with the children of immigrants whose parents were hellbent on getting them out of the slums and tenaments (Stuy or Bronx High School to City College or Brooklyn College maybe NYU if lucky. The Ivies were largely out league because of quota’s on Jews which existed until the 1960s). Even now Stuy and Bronx Science and other Magnet High Schools have large immigrant and first-generation American student bodies. You also have suburbs filled with professional parents. etc.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain says:

        KatherineMW, many Christian private schools in the United States aren’t really seen as hotbeds of intellectual activity. Especially, if they are run by Evangelicals.Report

      • just me in reply to Michael Cain says:

        @leeesq I guess it depends on what your definition of intellectual activity is. I know of a couple of evangelical schools in my immediate area who are heavily into robotics and artificial intelligence. I guess for me that would qualify as intellectual activity, maybe not so for others.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to Michael Cain says:

        There might be a few exceptions: Wheaton and Taylor are (or were) intellectually rigorous. These kids arrive on campus, their parents reassured they’ll be receiving a Christian Education, which is usually a contradiction in terms. You’ll get an education in both schools. You won’t be the same Christian.

        You’ve got your Christian schools — then you have your Education schools. Wheaton’s an Education School. The process will relentlessly pick away at all precious assumptions about why you believe anything. A good science department which scoffed at all this Intelligent Design crap. Good physics and math programs. Dogma is seen as a sign of weakness in any discussion: there were two terms much bandied about in my day in a pejorative way: “Scholasticism” and “Neo-platonism”. Both meant you didn’t have any basis for what you actually believed and were cutting corners in your arguments.

        There are other “Christian” schools, where the opposite is true. They’re a great embarrassment to those of us who were made to learn faith and doubt are coined in the same press.Report

  11. People can argue about August and Everything After vs. In Utero vs. Alien Lanes vs. Loveless being more relevant or whatever all they want, but it misses the point.

    Nevermind was the most important album of the 90s (possibly followed by their Unplugged album). If you disagree, we’re no longer friends.

    Relevance is overrated.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

      I will leave aside “relevance”, since I am not exactly sure what it means (or at least, it’s highly subjective, since something may be “relevant” to me and not to you – “Hang the DJ, because the music that they constantly play, says nothing to me about my life.”)

      And in one sense, Nirvana were unquestionably the most “important”, because there’s no question Nevermind was a sea change event – you can pretty much divide the calendar into B.N. and A.N. (And I loved the post-Nirvana craziness, as labels scrambled to see what else they had been ignoring that was potentially profitable, signing difficult obscure bands willy-nilly and letting them do what they wanted on major-label dimes, in the hopes something else would stick).

      But in terms of musical or thematic originality that adds to the overall realm of artistic possibility (which seems to me to be another meaning of “important”), I am not sure Nirvana did anything so unusual that they will ever be looked at as the “head” of any given tradition.

      I can name dozens of bands – entire genres – that take, say, the VU (or MBV, or the JAMC, or the Pistols, or Bowie, or the Beatles, etc.) as their wellspring. Without that thing, this thing wouldn’t have happened. That originator (or at minimum early adopter) widened the possibilities for those who came later.

      Nirvana didn’t really do anything (musically or thematically) that hadn’t been done. They put it all together nicely, but they are a part and popularizers of a tradition(s), much more than originators of one. The feedback and atonal noise came from SY and others; the dynamic shifts came from Pixies; the melodies came from Beatles; and on and on.

      In that respect, I’d argue that Loveless or Alien Lanes ARE much more “important”; as those bands took fairly new approaches that basically invented syntaxes/languages that largely just didn’t exist before, and will continue to be mined fruitfully for years to come. (The whole “only 100 people heard the VU, but they all started bands” thing.)Report