Linky Friday #53


Will Truman

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

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62 Responses

  1. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Pft! Is that all it takes to have a bloated welfare state and a high general standard of living?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        There are many ways to fund a welfare state or really most government functions besides high taxes. If a country has a particularly valuable natural resource and is willing to socialize its production, profits from said resource can be used to fund a lot of government functions if the money is invested and spent well.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Yes, that’s what I said. If you have a big pool of oil or some other natural resource, you can be a big welfare spender and still have a leading-edge economy. Countries not so endowed need to choose.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        yes. Germany chooses well.
        Japan chose poorly.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        …if the money is invested and spent well.

        Therein lies the rub. I study these countries for a living. Most of them barely invest the money and spend it poorly.

        Norway isn’t Norway because it has oil. Norway is Norway because its Scandinavian.Report

      • Avatar James K says:


        There are two factors at work in Norway to make it as prosperous as it is. One of them is that it has a massive (relative to its size) source of oil, but that wouldn’t be enough by itself. Most natural resource rich countries end up with poor institutions because all that resource wealth tends to encourage zero-sum politics that leave the country mired in poverty.

        Norway is singular because it developed sane institutions and then struck oil.Report

    • Avatar Caleb says:

      It’s worth noting that the wealth fund only pays out 4% per year. The rest is invested abroad. Using the numbers in the story, that is roughly $6,500 per person in domestic expenditures. To equal that expenditure per person in the US would be roughly $2.04 trillion a year. To match Norway’s capitalization percentages, that would be a $51 trillion sovereign wealth fund.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    P1- I’m relatively sure that many liberals would be more into natural resource exploitation in the United States if at least some of it was invested into a sovereign wealth fund rather than mainly going to corporations.

    En2-The Bible contains a lot of good stories for movies. The problem is that balancing the religious element and the entertainment element can be tricky. A mistake will result in really horrible movie. Every attempt to turn the Book of Esther, one of the most lively stories in the Bible, into a movie failed miserably because the producers went for the uplifting Bible angle rather than the Arabian Nights with Jews. As a Jewish nationalist I support more Bible based movies because all the good guys are Jews though. ;).Report

    • Avatar dand says:

      P1- I’m relatively sure that many liberals would be more into natural resource exploitation in the United States if at least some of it was invested into a sovereign wealth fund rather than mainly going to corporations.

      Both Alaska and Texas put their oil revenues into overeign wealth funds, i have no idea what other states do.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        No TAXES. no taxes at ALL.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        The federal and state governments can get a ton of money from drilling on public lands. Except for Alaska, the state gets to keep 50% of the profits, the federal government keeps 10%, and then 40% goes directly into reclamation spending (dams and whatnot, land and resource management) somewhere else in the US.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Will, I wouldn’t describe it quite that way. The government(s) get royalty payments based on the price of the coal/oil/gas less certain negotiated expenses (typical royalty rate is 12.5%). The extracting company may or may not make a profit; the royalties are a cost of business and are paid, profit or no. The ongoing glut of natural gas in the US means that many of the pure shale-gas companies are not making a profit, but the land owners are still getting their royalty checks and will, right up until bankruptcy.

        Some bankruptcies are almost guaranteed. Too many of the pure shale-gas players are heavily indebted and are struggling to meet drilling expenses, royalty payments, and interest payments on their debt. They’re not retiring debt, but simply hope to roll it over when it comes due. Any of them that can’t roll it over will be broke. If the glut lasts long enough, all of the pure shale-gas players will be out of business.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        how does this square with the companies selling deliberately under market, taking an upfront loss in order to get leases that they can ramp up the costs on later?
        (kill the coal plants with cheaper natural gas, then raise prices)Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        I don’t think I understand the question. If you mean what I think you mean, almost nobody has deep enough pockets or a big enough share of NG production to risk trying it.

        Periodically an NG company gets caught selling gas to a separate subsidiary at an artificially low price in order to avoid paying honest royalties; it’s fraud andwhen they do get caught the penalties can be pretty steep. Real coal-plant closures that you read about now — as opposed to a big generator burning more gas and less coal in a couple of different ways across its newer plants — are being driven more by new air pollution regulations than fuel prices. It’s just not worth building a baghouse to control particulates on a small 60-year-old coal-fired plant in the middle of town.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      I doubt it, because climate change.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    En3 demonstrates to me the increasing absurdity of pro-piracy arguments. The article’s summary states: “ABC’s brutal restriction of next-day online episodes to cable customers and Hulu Plus subscribers only may have led cord-cutters to turn to pirated content sites.”

    The “brutal restriction”? An 8-day waiting period. Seriously people? You don’t have a moral right to entertainment when you want, how you want, where you want.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott says:

      I think you’re missing the point. The moral argument isn’t “I have a universal right to watch this show”. There is no moral argument, really.

      This is a broadcast television show. It’s free to watch. People know it’s free to watch. And these people are watching it for free, when it’s convenient to them.

      This is like the pedestrians who don’t wait the extra few seconds for the “don’t walk” sign to turn into a “walk” sign when there are no cars on the road. It’s not that they believe they have some moral right to walk wherever–it’s that the minor inconvenience isn’t worth a purely symbolic concession to the law.

      The real issue is that while from the point of view of pirates, the decision to pirate a free show vs. watch a free show on TV or a legal service is purely symbolic, that’s not the case from ABC’s perspective, and that’s a tough problem to tackle. Of course, annoying the people that watch your show by making them wait an extra week isn’t the best way to get them to cooperate…

      It’s a bit frustrating that ABC chose to implement this change immediately after I let my H+ subscription lapse, but I’m willing to wait the week. I was not willing to wait, though, for the first episode of season 3 Sherlock. Because PBS is getting the same amount of money from me either way, and because I knew I’d be in the middle of a busy school term for the US air date.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I hadn’t considered the fact that ABC is broadcast TV. That certainly changes it.

        But I’m not sure it changes it enough that what ABC is doing ought to be considered a “brutal restriction”. I think that still goes to show the sense of entitlement that many piracy advocates have.

        I’ve talked before about The Oatmeal’s comic on piracy. I’ve had piracy advocates send it to me and say, “See? This is why we pirate!”

        Comic available here:

        But if you pay attention, it demonstrates the same attitude: someone unwilling to engage in accessible and legal avenues to receive the content opts to cut corners because they don’t want to play by the rules.
        @will-truman challenged me once on how intellectual property rights also carry with it certain responsibilities. If IP laws are designed to promote the creation of content, they shouldn’t be used to severely limit access to that content. Which I think is a really good argument. If the creator of a work of art wants to use IP laws to make access impossible or close to it, I wouldn’t really fault people for pirating it. But telling people to pay X for a product to watch it in real time or Y to watch in a few weeks later and, sorry, Z isn’t currently an option doesn’t rise to severely restricted access.

        Sorry… I’m getting on a soap box. But the complete moral bankruptcy of many piracy advocates exhibited by remarkable selfishness and entitlement that they argue is actuality he most moral thing to do* just gets my goat.

        * One friend said he SHOULD pirate music because the artist gets more exposure and he’s really helping her out. When I pointed out that A) the artist isn’t the only one with skin in the game and B) he has no idea what the artist actually want, he said it doesn’t matter; he knows what’s best. Please. Okay… rant over. Finally.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Okay… sorry… I just reread the comic in its entirety and got angry all over again (and I realize I might just be yelling at my computer screen and no one else).

        But the guy in the comic says, “I don’t want or have cable!” You don’t want cable, dude! Guess what that means? NO GAME OF THRONES! NOT RIGHT NOW, AT LEAST! UGH! WHY IS THAT HARD TO UNDERSTAND FOR PEOPLE!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!Report

  4. Avatar Glyph says:

    [F3] – Will, thanks for that, great read. It strongly recalls the convos I had going on over on Chris’ Atheist Guilt post – in a sense, Mack was like an “atheist” who experienced a “religious conversion”.

    It also made me remember something I mentioned in a couple ’90’s-related music posts I did – which was that in the 90’s, aliens (and angels, perhaps not coincidentally) were EVERYWHERE.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    A1+A2 = Gateway 2000 (until around 2000)Report

  6. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Also on A1 – I’m supposed to be sympathetic to a couple that has used the commuter’s arbitrage for years and are now bummed that the arbitrage isn’t as good of a deal anymore?Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      and separately:

      Few cross between these twin ports as often as Alvin Berg and Vince Nelson, the co-owners of two gay bars …. together for almost 30 years, [they] built a house in Superior with details painstakingly chosen to match their wishes: high ceilings, a centerpiece stairway, a basement bar stocked with Cher memorabilia and no liquor.

      Mick Stingley, call your office.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      This may be unfair, but I’m less sympathetic to their cries of a lean budget upon learning that they live on a quiet cul de sac. Quiet cul de sacs are expensive and a luxury.

      I am sympathetic to the plight of workers (union or otherwise) who worked with one understanding about how their retirement would be handled only to learn late in the game that it would be handled another way. While nothing is ever guaranteed, people shouldn’t have to worry that the system which they operated and planned under might be drastically changed when it is too late to adjust. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for the couple described. They are twenty years into a teaching career which probably puts them in their mid- to late-40s. They clearly have options (as evidenced by the wife’s ability to transition from part- to full-time and the husband’s opportunity to teach a college course).

      Does it suck for people when their situation worsens for matters largely out of their control? Sure. But part of the reason this was out of their control was because they opted to live in a state that catered to their lifestyle while working in a different state that catered to their professional lives. In doing so, they forfeited their right to vote in elections regarding the governance of the state they work in. While their two votes would not necessarily have changed things, the fact that they opted for even less control leads me to arrive at a similar conclusion that @kolohe has.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        I should have also said that I am even less sympathetic to the Scott Walker voting Republican that is quote on quote shocked that her Medicaid supported health insurance has been axed.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        I’m inclined to be a bit more sympathetic because I’ll likely be making a similar commute once I’m credentialed (across county lines rather than state lines, though). Because on one side of the bridge is where I live and like to live, and on the other side of the bridge is where all of the students are.Report

  7. Avatar Kim says:

    Bitcoin is following the Ebay model. PR, PR, PR.
    Even if you grant every single word written about the “usefulness” of cryptocurrency…
    You still have to say that bitcoin will maintain market share, and not, say, Coinye (article on lolf ed ifyou want it)Report

  8. Avatar Kim says:

    I find stuff like this interesting. I know a guy who created his own native language (it’s pictoral). I wonder how much of this bilingualism could be measured in his brain? [he doesn’t natively think in any other language, though…]Report

  9. Avatar NewDealer says:

    En2: Hollywood is filled with business people thinking they are artists and artists thinking they are business people. They will produce stories that they think are worth telling and will sell. It has nothing to do with finding religion or conservatism. They just want money.

    A1: I read this story a while ago. This will probably start being more and more common. Though not as drastically because blue states and red states seem to clomp together (unsurprisingly). Wisconsin and Minnesota might be outliers here in their state governments.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t think it’s that simple. The studios will usually chase a buck, it’s true. In this case, they have reason to believe that biblical movies and TV shows will be profitable, and so they pursue it. They know this because some born-against made a cable TV miniseries happen (against some Hollywood resistance on the subject matter) that turned out to be a smashing success.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I think that is just a conservative business sense and not wanting to do something until it is a proved success/market. Hollywood let the indies do a lot of innovation in the 1980s and 90s before learning from them and being off-kilter or different can still be financially lucrative.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        That’s some of it, but in this case it had to be proven twice. I think it’s easier for Hollywood to subjectively see more potential in some unproven projects than others.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        Don’t forget though, that in addition to high profile successes, there have been some pretty high-profile failures: The Chronicles of Narnia, though not a bible movie as such, was definitely trying to bridge the gap between the church and the cineplex in the same way Passion did, and flopped pretty hard.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I’d always assumed that Narnia was hoping to capitalize on the success of Harry Potter more than Passion of Christ. Pretty big misfire if it was the latter.

        Even so, the Narnia films were profitable and sufficiently successful that they made three of them and they secured funding for the fourth (though they can’t make it due to having lost the rights).Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        @will-truman The point is that Narnia was trying to split the difference between HP fans and evangelical Christians in the same way that Passion split the difference between big-budget history drama fans and evangelical Christians. Narnia used the same church based grassroots marketing campaign that made Passion such a success.

        Looking at the numbers, I see that the Narnia films made a lot more money than I’d previously thought, but each sequel was making significantly less money than it’s predecessor. I think Walden had real trouble getting the Christians and the HP fans going to the same movie: as evidenced by their bizzare choice to film the much more bible focused “Magician’s Nephew” as the fourth movie instead of the sixth–which is a huge part of why they lost the rights.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      “Wisconsin and Minnesota might be outliers here in their state governments.”

      Virginia / Maryland was probably the strongest example of this, but the former is at a tipping point of shedding its 400 year small c conservative heritage. (though Jersey spent the entire 20th century being not-New York & not-Pennsylvania)Report

  10. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    A2: Let’s be clear about what IBM is doing in Dubuque. It’s not research, and it’s not development, it’s a services delivery center for customers who outsource parts of their business process IT to IBM. This is the “blue collar” part of the business (do the standard things competently, in the standard way; we’re not looking for creativity). The average salary should reflect that and does, according to pieces written at the time the deal was made, at around $45K. IBM has historically put these in medium-sized cities (Beaverton, Durham, Tulsa). None of that is bad, but these are not jobs for which the start-up hotbeds are realistically going to compete. The $53M incentive package that IBM got probably didn’t hurt.Report

  11. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    P3: Two remarks.

    First, renewable electricity resources will almost always require some sort of preferential treatment. If not financial incentives, then dispatching rules. A wind turbine is much more valuable if the dispatching rules say “Use all of the wind power that is available first, then add what you need from other sources to make up the difference.” I have been predicting that this will be an ongoing source of (possibly serious) contention between regions that are rich in renewable resources and regions that are not.

    Second, it’s important to note that some of the places mentioned are down to burning lignite. Given a choice of supplies, you would burn most anything else before you burned lignite.Report

  12. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    P4 – Very cool, thanks for seeing that & sharing!Report

  13. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    A3 – This is a story that is, unfortunately, typical on the East Coast. The laws in the Northeast are inconsistent, frequently devoid of any real utility toward justice, and often applied against people who haven’t done anyone any harm.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      Err, the gun laws, not all laws.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      I’m wondering what happens if his wife sticks with “I don’t know” instead of implying that the gun could be hidden anywhere in the car.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I’m wondering how they knew he owned a gun in the first place (do states exchange their records of permit holders?), and why it would even matter that he did, when he was obviously traveling in a car full of family members and luggage and Christmas presents, and not, say, apprehended in the commission of a crime or lurking in some bushes or something. Just because the wife answered “I don’t know” in a different way doesn’t retroactively justify what sure looks like a fishing trip.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Chances would have been good the cop would have run out of steam faster.

        But then police live & breath on the unintentional statement giving them probable cause. As Popehat says, when talking to the police, Shut Up.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        As a general rule, no, the lists of gun owners are not shared, and in some states, are confidential & not publicly available. In a lot of places, a simple DMV/license check will not reveal the presence of a carry permit. This is why people are very curious as to how a MD cop got FL permit information. Did FL share without telling anyone? Did the cop have prior knowledge for some other nefarious purpose?

        MD does not honor any permits from any other state (a fact any gun owner can easily check), so there would be no rational cause to share permit information with MD.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        …do states exchange their records of permit holders?

        Some states (cough*Colorado*cough) have laws that (a) don’t require sheriffs (who issue the permits) to report them to a central record keeper, (b) don’t allow the sheriff to reveal who has a permit to anyone except another law enforcement agency, and (c) don’t allow gov’t at any level to keep a registry of gun ownership. Here, the answer to the question of how many concealed carry permits have been issued always includes “estimated” because some sheriffs don’t report.

        However, 32 other states will honor our sheriff-issued pieces of paper. Presumably they check with the issuing sheriff’s office if there’s some sort of question.Report

  14. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    Can I just say how much I love the image? So much nostalgia…Report

  15. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

    [Ed2] A Los Angeles liberary is offering high school diplomas. Fortunaely, they don’t have to be returned.

    This sentence reads like it was written by someone with no high school diploma.Report

  16. Avatar unbeliever536 says:

    I mostly lurk here, but I just want to say that I think I did a homework assignment about [F4] last year, before the paper was published. My professor knows the guy who wrote the paper and borrowed his data for an assignment about special relativity.Report

  17. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Unrelated to anything in this week’s collection, but related to other discussions recently:

    Race and Casting’s Recurring Role (with a brief segue on a play where gender identity was a factor in casting decisions)Report