Linky Friday #58

Will Truman

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

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62 Responses

  1. zic says:

    W4: This seems more finely balanced then the article suggests, at least to me; based on what the actual tithing practices are (and I don’t know what they are.) But two scenarios:

    1) Tithes are required to participate and/or advance through the church hierarchy (and I have gotten that impression; the linked article reinforces it): then the church myths could, indeed, be viewed as a form of fraud.

    2) Tithes are not required to participate; then it seems no different then the myths around any other religion.

    But if there’s anything remotely like a pay-to-pray aspect, it does seem a type of fraud to me, and perhaps should face some sort of judicial challenge.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to zic says:

      Mormon tithing, as I understand it, is not as optional as it is in many other churches, but it is heavily dependent on income. It’s only once your income reaches a certain point that it is expected. If you’re struggling, the church helps you out through the Relief Society and such.

      I don’t know if this factors in for you but Mormons do not believe you will go to hell for not being Mormon.Report

      • zic in reply to Will Truman says:

        Like I said, if there’s any element of having to pay to pray, it creates some fraud issues in my mind.

        I don’t know that LDS beliefs about hell have much weight in that. If I have to pay to worship in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I’d have the same problem.Report

      • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        Most synagogues have dues. How is that not pay to pray?
        (note: one can be a jew, and worship, at home.)Report

      • I mention the hell because it’s not about paying to avoid eternal damnation. It is paying for membership of the church, which could be considered independent of the theological beliefs the church preaches. Like Kim alludes to.

        I think it’s problematic to start delineating between faith, fact, and fiction, and start going after religious groups on that basis. Of course, that’s a First Amendment issue, which they don’t have over there in the same manner that we do.

        From a more legalistic standpoint, though, it can be and probably should be assumed that “buyer beware” applies. That, by virtue that there are all of these contradictory religious teachings out there, the person paying may not be getting the strict truth.Report

  2. Glyph says:

    [T4] PLEASE don’t fix the typo.

    But also, I saw this already and must ask, what’s the point? What does this do that a pocket door wouldn’t do as well (or better – a pocket door doesn’t intrude into the room at all), and probably with more structural integrity (and therefore security?)Report

    • Mo in reply to Glyph says:

      It’s probably easier to install that in an existing doorway than a pocket door.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

      Just for you I will leave the typo up. At least mostly.

      I think the point is that it’s kind of cool. So everyone will want one and people who have pocket doors will be considered pathetic or something.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

        @will-truman Door hipsters are the worst.
        @mo – agreed that it would be an easier install, but I can’t see that it offers any actual benefit (you still don’t have the space/clearance to put furniture next to the door, so you haven’t gained any usable room space like you would with a pocket door) and it seems like it’d be less effective at keeping noise and, well, unwanted visitors out than a plain old swinging door would be.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        Yea, that door sucks.Report

  3. Kim says:

    Yeah, and you can get free pizza coupons too!!

    LOST in all of this is that PA ain’t getting a DIME from any of that extraction (it’s all Tax Free!),
    and it is mucking up our water. We’re talking brain tumors, here.Report

  4. Kim says:

    How to increase confidence in driverless cars: don’t let them be hackable. Don’t let them do donuts around the parking lot because they have been hacked.Report

    • zic in reply to Kim says:

      This actually frightens me.

      Because computers fail. Something that’s not hackable might also be not fixable.Report

      • Kim in reply to zic says:

        Humans are merely biological based computers. And they fail a LOT more often, and for a lot more reasons, than computers do.

        Driving is really fucking dangerous (it’s why I don’t do it often) — I promise you we will save lives when we switch to driverless trucks.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to zic says:

        Having designed parts of high-availability high-reliability systems, how much are you willing to compromise? How much redundancy and error detection/correction are you willing to pay for? Mil-spec grade sensors? How many restrictions on functionality will you accept, since so much processing is going into reliability? How much inconvenience? (Tesla’s update the software across the internet model is out, right from the get-go.)Report

  5. zic says:

    P6 — extracting fossil fuels.
    Such things are one of my discomforts with fossil fuel exploitation, which I am generally supportive of. Not that there are these costs, as I believe under current constraints they are still outweighed by the overall benefit, but the mismatch between cost payers and benefit recipients is disturbing.

    Now I’m going to go all libertarian on this one. Because when you create externalities, like a toxic soup of chemicals in the air or water table pollution, you are responsible.

    And with the water table stuff, I have a big problem. The ground is our primary water filter. Water flowing through the ground is how the stuff get’s cleaned. It’s not just our water we’re talking about here; it’s the future’s water. And if this is a consequence of fracking, it should be accounted for, not written of as a price to pay by some for the overall benefits. That is, literally, a theft from the commons of clean air and water of those residents and future residents.Report

    • Kim in reply to zic says:

      Tax free theft, yes indeedyReport

    • Will Truman in reply to zic says:

      Ideally, it’s a price to be paid by those benefiting in accordance with how much they benefit. Such cost assignment is hard, though.Report

      • zic in reply to Will Truman says:

        Well, there are long and ongoing lists of problems with fossil fuel extraction; you have several links here.

        Those are not unknown things; they’re well known and can be documented right now. To suggest that the harms don’t are worth the benefit, and to not include the price of those harms in the costs, is reprehensible; it’s rent seeking in the first degree.Report

      • Whether harms are worth the cost is a value judgment, ultimately. Obviously denying known costs (or uncontested ones) is different from measuring them and considering them outweighed.Report

      • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        Here, have a pizza coupon! courtesy of chevron —
        “our well won’t blow up, or your pizza is on us!”Report

      • James K in reply to Will Truman says:


        Actually its simpler than that, you make the people deciding whether to frack or not pay in proportion to the environmental harm caused. After you’ve done that the market will shift the costs through the value chain.

        That still leaves figuring out the magnitude of the cost, but you don’t need to engage in some complex calculus on who benefits (and in what proportion) because of fracking.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman says:

        Is anyone who’s fracking paying for the consequent damage to the water table? If so, I’m unaware of it.Report

  6. Kim says:

    Give us 5 years (until gas spikes again), and we’ll be back to wanting nuclear.Report

  7. Vikram Bath says:

    [D4] More online dating data! Use these words to be more attractive to women.


    (I admit I read it though.)Report

    • Kim in reply to Vikram Bath says:

      Women like men who are linguistically savvy.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Vikram Bath says:

      I read it, only because Kim’s comment intrigued me. And the article makes a terrible assumption in its analysis of the use of the word “whom”. The article implies that if the word “whom” attracts 31% more interest overall, then proper use of the word attracts 31% more interest, and improper use of the word attracts 31% more interest. Wired didn’t check syntax, therefore syntax doesn’t matter. That analysis comes from a “professor of general linguistics in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh”. Yikes.Report

      • zic in reply to Pinky says:


        Best on-line-dating art project I know of was done by Luke Dubois, Missed Connections. To get to it, you may have to go to projects, scroll down to Missed connections, and click on the link project website.

        He mapped the most common word used in on-line dating profiles with US census data.

        DuBois does some really interesting work using technology to harvest the data we post on line to make art, a new and growing art form.Report

      • Vikram Bath in reply to Pinky says:

        @pinky ,
        I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed. The “Wired didn’t check syntax, therefore syntax doesn’t matter” inference is pretty cringeworthy. (So is the desire to tie it to evolution at the end, but I find that more forgivable.)Report

      • Pinky in reply to Pinky says:

        Yes. And my bet is, the type of woman who’s going to be impressed by use of the word “whom” is going to be horrified by its misuse. (Or is going to be both pompous and a lot less bright than she thinks. Hey, maybe this is a good idea! Use the word “whom” and it’ll filter out people who aren’t right for you. The smart ones will end up with the smart ones, and the dumb show-offs will end up with the dumb show-offs.)

        (And in an unrelated note, to tie together this thread’s main themes, to whom ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!)Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Pinky says:

        The bigger flaw is that no evidence of any causal relationship is presented. I’m pretty sure they’re just talking about raw response rates with no controls or regressions at all. That is, the 31% seems to mean that if the average response rate for all mails sent was 10%, then mails with “whom” in them got a 13.1% response rate. This is almost certainly due primarily to “whom” acting as a proxy for any number of other things rather than to any causal role the use of “whom” actually plays.Report

  8. Chris says:

    My son watched Ghost Busters for the first time last summer (I made him). I asked him what he thought if it, and he said, “It was pretty good, but the special effects were really bad.” This is how a teenager in 2013 says that an 80s movie was awesome.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

      My son WANTS to watch it, bad, but he’s only 5 and I think that’s too young. But he asks at least once a week. He’s kind of obsessed.Report

      • zic in reply to Glyph says:

        If you watch with him, I think it would be okay. In part, because the special effects are so 1980’s; almost cartoon.

        I think my kids were probably about that age when they watched; and there was no obvious harm.

        But if you do decide to watch together, I’d make it a morning thing, not a just-before sleep thing.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Glyph says:

        There was a cartoon series called “The Real Ghostbusters” that ran for a while. I think it was more kid-friendly – I didn’t watch it as a kid, and I don’t know your kid, so YMMV. It was written by J. Michael Straczynski, the man behind Babylon 5, and it had deep moments, so I don’t know. It had a spin-off that was definitely targeted toward kids, called “Slimer!”. I’m sure they’re available on DVD. There was also a cartoon show called “Ghostbusters” that came out around the same time, but it was unrelated to the movie, and I’ve never heard anything good about it.Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        I was 8 or just turned 9, and my brother was 6, when we saw it in the theater. The library scene scared the shit out of me (you know, when the old lady ghost turns from peaceful old lady into scary, scary ghost lady), but for the most part we were OK. But I understand waiting. It has some sexual humor and some potentially nightmare-inducing (for a 5-year old) scenes.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Glyph says:


        I saw Ghostbusters when I was 5 or 6 and ran out of the room from the library scene.

        Also there is the blowjob joke.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

        And they’re smoking inside. CONSTANTLY.

        The line “That’s a big twinkie”? Was said through a cloud of exhaled smoke.

        (Anybody else snort when Dan Ackroyd had an obscure verse memorized and at his fingertips? Anybody?)Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

        The smoking jumps out at me, too. It always does.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Glyph says:


        The constant smoking might be the one thing that really dates the movie. Also the technology.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

        @pinky The “other” Ghostbusters you’re referring to is the Original Ghost Busters, which was a TV show in the 70’s. When the Ghostbusters movie came out, the previous came back to capitalize on the success of the movie. The trademark issues were ongoing, so the movie-based TV show became “The Real Ghostbusters” (later “Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters”) and the other was pitched as “The Original Ghost Busters” or “Filmation’s Ghost Busters”

        Yeah, the latter wasn’t very good. It was mostly just one of those things where they had a copyright/trademark claim and why not take advantage of it?Report

      • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

        Oh, think the other way… One thing that dates the movie is that there’s a black guy in a lead role.

        Seriously, compare it to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

        I’m not sure when this really changed, but I looked through a bunch of other movies from 1975, and they all seem to fit that patternReport

    • Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

      Special effects and quality are among the reasons that, in my opinion, old movies are less likely to hold up as well as old books are. The better a movie is, of course, the easier it is to overlook things.

      I find the fashion more jarring than the special effects.Report

  9. NewDealer says:

    E2: I watched Ghostbusters two nights ago again and the article is pretty spot on. The fashions are very 80s and so are the references to New York being a crime-ridden war zone but most of the humor is more universal rather than topical. I don’t feel the same can be said for many modern comedies which seem to go for as many current pop culture references as possible and will seem dated in 10-15 years.Report

  10. Mad Rocket Scientist says:


    I found this interesting: Setting up Vertical Axis Wind Turbines in a tight array makes them more efficient. This is a fun CFD problem a lot of teams have been working on for a while, since alone VAWTS are actually a bit worse than HAWTS (the big fans). I’ve much preferred the idea of VAWTs, because of the ease of maintenance with all the machinery at the bottom, as well as the smaller impact on wildlife.Report

  11. Will Truman says:

    [E1] and [E2] … Ghostbusters was probably the first movie that I ever loved. I remember when it played on television and what a huge deal it was that this movie was going to be on television. I recorded it with our VHS player so that I could watch it over and over again. Which I did. Over and over again.

    The computer game is actually listed on some of the Worst Games of All Times list, but I actually liked that, too. The only problem with it was that it opened with a voice saying “Ghostbusters? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!” that meant that I couldn’t play the game late at night.Report

  12. Will Truman says:

    A couple of observations from Ghostbusters 2

    One of the cranks on Peter’s TV show said that the world is going to end on Valentine’s Day in 2016. That’s coming up!

    The batteries in the backpacks have a half-life of 5,000 years. Forget ghostbusting, they should sell that technology. They’d be bazillionaires and (contra LWA) make the world a better place.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

      Dr. Ray Stantz: You know, it just occurred to me that we really haven’t had a successful test of this equipment.
      Dr. Egon Spengler: I blame myself.
      Dr. Peter Venkman: So do I.
      Dr Ray Stantz: Well, no sense in worrying about it now.
      Dr. Peter Venkman: Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.Report

  13. Michael Cain says:

    P1 and P2: The map corresponds pretty well to any of the standard “wind resource” maps that NREL and others put out: Great Plains, prairies, northern border areas, mountain passes and downslopes in the West. These days I recommend a drive through the Smoky Hills wind complex in Kansas: turbines strung out along a 20+ mile stretch of I-70. Very industrial feel. The only place I’ve driven that has the same kind of feeling is the NJ Turnpike south from Newark Airport past the refineries and chemical plants. The “complimentary” maps for existing and projected nuclear power plants are here and here, with the current map a bit out of date now that San Onefre is retired. I expect to see a bigger push to close the Columbia generating plant in Washington in the next few years. If Phil Anschutz pulls off the Transwest Express transmission project and Wyoming wind farms to feed it, California could eventually decide to dump the Diablo Canyon reactors as well.

    Seems to me that it’s going to be increasingly difficult to have a single national electricity supply policy due to the stark regional differences. Eg, the West is committing seriously to a renewable strategy; the Southeast is likely to be increasingly nuclear; we already see the split occurring in Congress when subsidies (of various forms) for different generating sources come up.Report

    • The southeast favors nuclear? I didn’t know that.Report

      • It’s not like they have a lot of choice. Tennessee Valley hydro is pretty much tapped out. The region is, in my mind, also maxed out on coal. They’ve already had to go pretty far afield for coal resources: the Scherer plant in Georgia alone burns 10-12 million tons of Wyoming coal each year. The frequency of coal ash spills is starting to make people nervous. The eastern Gulf of Mexico appears to lack the same rich oil and gas resources that occur farther west, so NG would also be an “import” that has to come from somewhere. Crap for onshore wind resources; surprisingly poor offshore wind resources. Solar has problems in the form of overcast, humidity, and lots and lots of trees. And yet the people continue to pour in, each demanding additional air-conditioned living and working space.

        Given all that, nuclear looks fairly reasonable so long as the feds will guarantee the liability and cost-overrun issues and you can dispose of the waste somewhere far away…Report

    • The link to the current map of commercial power reactors is here. I seem to be have mangled the HTML is in some fashion. Again.Report

  14. Vikram Bath says:

    T1: Google’s brilliance in purchasing and dumping Motorola as a pressure point against Samsung

    It’s unlikely that buying *and* selling Motorola *both* increased Google’s leverage over Samsung. I think it’s much more likely that the author thinks Google is smart and framed the facts to support his Google-is-smart thesis.

    And if he’s right, why is Samsung demoing a pretty decent Android clone?

    The OS runs on “prototype” hardware that very closely resembles a Galaxy S4. Tizen is a Linux-based OS primarily developed by Samsung, and, the theory goes, Samsung’s grand plot is to eventually turn Tizen into a drop-in Android replacement, own the market with an OS of its own making, and never have to deal with Google again. So far, Tizen seems a pretty accurate Android clone, but it’s shocking how far along it is. On the surface, it seemed just as capable as a TouchWiz Android device. Samsung has done such a good job of replicating the Android interface that there is very little to write about—everything looks and works similarly to the way it does on Android, just without any kind of ecosystem.


    • Huh. I’m not sure how that one resurfaced here (I do LF’s in the most convoluted fashion imaginable, though, so things slip through the cracks).

      Anyway, my phrasing was odd, though, and perhaps misleading. Kelly was saying that the buying was for leverage against Samsung, and the selling was reflective of the fact that the buying did its job. It was no longer necessary to hold on to Motorola at that point.

      He does do a good job of knocking down the “$10bn loss” argument, though, as it appears that a more fair analysis would indicate that it was significantly less.

      As far as Tizen goes, it’s hard to say what to make of it. There was some speculation that Tizen was actually going to be further along by now. I remember a few reviews of the S4 saying that this was probably their Android swan song. That Samsung signed the contract to continue running Android success that Google has more leverage than it was looking like last year.

      The only real question is what role Motorola played in this. Kelly’s thesis, that this demonstrated that Google didn’t need Samsung, seems off the mark. Everyone but Samsung is struggling. If Samsung were to switch to Tizen, and convince LG, Sony, and HTC to join them… Motorola’s failure to wouldn’t particularly matter. Likewise, if Samsung couldn’t convince the others to join, Motorola is just one of a handful of players in the Android-sphere. (Unless the others went somewhere else. Where? Windows Phone?)

      Here is what does make some sense to me, though: While it was assumed at the time that Google wanted those patents for its fight against Apple, maybe it really wanted them for their fight against Samsung. With those patents, Samsung may never be fully free of Google (in the same sense that none of them are free of Microsoft due to MS’s patents), and that may be important leverage. Despite the sale of Motorola to Lenovo, Google did hold on to those patents. If that was the endgame, then maybe it was pretty smart.Report