Linky Friday #77


Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.

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62 Responses

  1. Avatar dhex says:

    a2 is a great piece. most of his profiles were good, despite being mostly about himself…but in a good way? dunno, always liked capote.

    n1 stalker was one of the greatest things to happen to pc gaming, right after power supplies but before those cool keyboards that light up. but yeah this thing deserved to die…hard.Report

  2. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    U4 – Fascinating! And a good reason to argue for urban density.Report

  3. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Hrmm, I have quite the presence this week.Report

  4. Avatar Chris says:

    A2 is awesome.Report

  5. Avatar Boegiboe says:

    [N9] “Tio was an avuncular, potbellied Mexican who was in on a cocaine distribution charge. At least once a day, Tio would confront me with his thumb and forefinger both extended to form a “pistol” and thereby “hold me at gunpoint” until I raised my hands into the air in surrender, at which point he would nod knowingly and place his invisible gun back in the invisible holster he wore at his side. This went on for months until, one day, I responded by pulling TWO invisible pistols out of the invisible holsters I had begun pretending to wear for this very purpose, at which point he raised his own hands in submission. When you’re locked up in the midst of the federal system’s non-violent pseudo-criminals, every day is a make-believe struggle just to survive.”Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      I’m working my way through those columns now, they are pretty great.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      “Tio” is “avuncular”? Of course he is.

      When I think about what happened to Barrett, I get very sad. But damn that guy can write.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Honestly, I find I’m not sad at all for Brown. It seems to me he’s rather a thoughtless fellow, perhaps one of those folks with a need to walk the edge to feel alive. I feel about as sorry for him as I do for a free climber who falls 1,000 feet. It’s not that I root for it to happen, or cheer when it does, but that I just shrug my shoulders and say, “yeah, that’s gonna happen sometimes.”Report

  6. Avatar Kim says:

    not half as bad as Joyce’s letters. Those… were truly something awful.Report

  7. Avatar Chris says:

    [U3]: Dude, have I not been saying that for years on this blog?!?!?

    Austin is extremely strange for a Southern city: a very small black population (under 10%) in the city, and suburbs with larger black populations (over 10%) than the city. And it’s getting worse: as developments push East of I-35 into what have been black neighborhoods since the 19th century, and housing pretty much everywhere else becomes significantly more expensive, and the city’s culture becomes whiter and whiter, there’s very little incentive for uprooted black people from the East Side to move anywhere within Austin. So they go to Round Rock or Elgin (pronounced with a hard “g”, unlike the suburb of Chicago or the basketball hall-of-famer) instead. Or leave Central Texas altogether for the more black-friendly cities elsewhere in Texas, especially Houston.

    This isn’t just an issue of gentrification, then. It’s what you get when you combine gentrification and extreme racial segregation (Austin remains one of the most segregated cities in the country): if black people only feel comfortable in one part of town, then when you force them out of that area, they’re just going to leave town. For all its liberal pretensions, Austin remains one of the more racist places I’ve been.Report

    • I know! That’s why it was for you!Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:


      When I first went to Austin — about 5-6 years ago — my friends who were more familiar with the area insisted we never cross 35. This was difficult, given that we were staying at the Garden Inn which was essentially on 35. This didn’t stop me, of course, since I A) landed before everyone else and thus did not get the warning until several hours later, after I had already ventured eastward for a liquor store and CVS and B) tend not to heed such warnings when they are based on little more than “brown people be thar”.

      When I last went to Austin — last summer — we rented a condo via AirBnB in a fairly new building on the other side of 35 (right near Franklin’s). “I thought we weren’t even supposed to come over here. Now we’re staying here?” “Well, it’s different now.”

      Black people, thar not be.

      (Note: It is entirely possible that I took needless risk in wandering a few blocks east. There certainly do exist areas, in Austin and in other major cities, that are legitimately dangerous to be in, especially after dark (beer/CVS run was made midday; Wendy’s run was late night). However, I refuse to live under the notion that any part of town that has a noticeable population of black people be off limits. I reject such warnings and pity people who live such sheltered lives. Like my colleague who couldn’t understand why I’d choose to walk around Harlem during my lunch hour today.)Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I lived on the “wrong” side of 35 until 3 years ago. Now my old neighborhood has $750k condos. It’s surreal.

        Oh, and that Wendy’s saw a few shootings a year for many years.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Just a few shootings a year? Well worth the risk when it’s 3AM and all the other food options are closed.Report

  8. Avatar zic says:


    I am seeing this more and more — using the traditional sexism of religion to defend against homosexuality and gender dysphoria. I find it very disturbing. The bible (and I’ve read it, the entire thing, at least twice now) also promotes slavery as acceptable, even honorable, yet few are the Christians who would suggest that slavery is morally acceptable. Concubines and polygamy (for men) was also acceptable. Child brides were acceptable. Rape was acceptable, under certain circumstances. And even murder. Illness that we now know the causes of were signs of sin once upon a time.

    The Bible, like all literary works, is a product of its time(s), reflecting the traditions of the people who wrote it; yet when it comes to sexuality, there is no bending Kyle says. Because god is the father. But we know now that lepers were not sinners. We know slavery is morally wrong.

    I seriously doubt any good Catholic man would refuse medical treatment for curable disease, instead embracing that disease as an outward sign of sin.

    And I am, at the end of it all, appalled by the way religion absconds with some people (those not straight, cis-males) moral authority. That is sinful.Report

    • Avatar gingergene says:

      “It’s no coincidence that progressive Christians who support gay marriage and transgendered identity tend to reject the inerrancy of sacred scripture, at least as traditionalists understand it.” (Emphasis mine)

      This is my complaint with “traditionalists” as Kyle describes them. The hubris involved in knowing that your interpretation is THE correct one is astounding. As you point out, these same traditionalists have revised their interpretations repeatedly in response to changing social mores, but have this “we have always been at war with Eastasia” mentality.

      I believe in God, and I believe he is unchanging. I am not, though. When I think to some of the things I believed and fervently, once upon a time, I am humbled. How sad would it be if we never got to know Him better as we lived longer?Report

  9. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    A1: The only reason give for the US being less attractive appears to be a matter of saturation.Report

  10. Avatar Kim says:
    Saudi Arabia spends money on its armed forces because 50% of the country privately owns AK47s.

    Paranoia, yes?Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      Saudi Arabia spends money on its armed forces because it
      1) has money to spend
      2) would rather buy a military than work for one
      3) gets diplomatic consideration from the West for doing so
      4) has a genuine geopolitical foe in Iran, even if both the Riyadh and Tehran governments can go sit on a pinecone.
      and thus 5) if it came down to it, would rather try to fight a rich man’s war (i.e. airpower) against Iran than a poor mans war the way Iraq wound up having to do.Report

  11. Avatar Kim says:

    GP2: I’m betting on the other plan (hint: not pitchforks). /cynicReport

    • Avatar Roger says:

      After reading that he leads with the Ford myth, I started looking to see if he had Taylor Swift ghost write it for him. It did get better though.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        He makes a point similar to one David Brin makes, in that being one of the financially elite requires one to be smart about it, lest you forget that the masses outnumber you & are armed.

        I guess what resonates with me is that it is important to make sure the rising tide lifts all boats. It does no one any good to artificially keep wages depressed, and I think there is cause to wonder if that isn’t the case.

        I look at my field, and right now, the median starting salary for a entry level mechanical engineer is $62K. I recall (perhaps imperfectly), that when I got my BSE in 2000, the entry level salary was $56-$58K (keeping pace with inflation would have that at around $78K today).Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        MRS: is that with a bachelor’s? One of the things I’m noticing is that recently, so many of my engineering student friends have elected to continue on and get their master’s degree.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        I suspect that competition from the developing world may be a bigger factor than artificial wage suppression. Our for specific industries, it could be demand side. Maybe there’s just not as much of that work being done, or better computers have made workers in industry much productive that demand has fallen.

        As I’ve pointed out before, if wages are artificially suppressed, then employers will be desperate to hire more people. At some point they’re going to have to start poaching, and then wages are no longer suppressed.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        artificially keep wages depressed,

        What is the evidence for the claim that it’s artificial?Report

      • Avatar Roger says:

        In a competitive global market, suppressing the freedom to hire workers below an arbitrary number would be expected to lead capital to NOT hire those whose marginal productivity didn’t meet the new standard. In addition it leads to capital moving to other pastures for labor, or replacing labor with technology as necessary to optimize risk adjusted returns. This leads to MORE inequality over the long haul, and reduces growth locally.

        As an engineer, I am surprised that you are arguing that the cost of every product and service is expected to rise in lock step. My take on supply and demand dictate something entirely different.

        When the supply/demand ratio reflects more supply over time relative to demand, the price of the engineer will fall relative to other goods and services. The reduction in price increases capitalists pursuing new entrepreneurial opportunities using engineers, and reduces the incentives for people to enter this field.

        Wages and profits and prices are both incentives and SIGNALS in markets. The signal is telling is something right now and it is not that we need to arbitrarily fix it. Indeed this screws up the efficiency of the adaptive system. Arbitrarily attempting to prop up engineer salaries based upon some notion that the relative price was right yesterday and wrong today is incorrect in every possible way. It misdiagnoses the problem and suggests a solution which actually makes the problem worse.

        I am just as opposed to “arbitrarily keeping wages depressed,” real or imagined.

        As for the pitch fork comment (coming from those on the left), this is rich. It is intellectually and morally wrong to hype inequality in a populist fashion to the masses while simultaneously arguing that we need to reduce inequality or the masses will take to pitch forks. The left is selling pitch forks. The appropriate response is to ask them to quit peddling BS to the masses. Instead we need to promote understanding on the role of supply and demand and the threats of interfering with the market mechanism.Report

      • Avatar LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

        We only sell pitchforks in response to the pricing signals indicating a surging demand.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        You’re creating artificial demand through advertising that creates a false consciousness.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        That is the BS entry level average. Getting the MS can tack on another $10-$15K.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        I don’t think there is some grand conspiracy to keep professional science wages depressed, but the fact that they are not keeping pace with inflation is disturbing. There is, of course, evidence of a localized suppression of wage increases (I wrote a post about that some months ago with regard to Apple, Google, Adobe, etc.) that I think probably has wider ranging effects with regard to the amount companies offer (pricing signals getting skewed).

        I do think @roger is right & wrong. Right in that the supply of engineers/scientists is climbing thanks to a national paranoia that US citizens can’t compete globally in science & math, so there is a big push for STEM careers. This is also fueled by recent college grads being unable to parley their non-STEM/Business degrees into middle class careers, so there is something of a glut of kids in the various STEM programs around the country (and potential grade inflation? not sure on that front, but I hear rumors). The limit on Visas keeps the local supply of foreign talent under control, but more companies are setting up science/engineering shops outside of the US, which I think does hammer things a bit.

        All that being said, given computers/numerical modeling, engineers today are many times more productive than previous generations, and (from what I hear from the old guys) expected to carry additional responsibilities that previously would have fallen to assistants or other professionals (it’s not enough to just know your field, now you may have to be able to write code, write grants, write media friendly articles, conduct customer training, prepare presentations for sales, go on sales calls, etc.), so the value added is arguably higher.

        So not artificially suppressed. I hope…Report

      • Avatar roger says:


        I agree with even your second point.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar says:

        My prediction is that economists will basically insist on Roger’s account until such time as the economics profession starts experiencing downward wage pressure.Report

  12. Avatar Francis says:

    N5: I disagree with the title of the piece. Plenty of progressives get it. We’re just waiting for that group of people to die off from old age. Not long ago Christians deeply believed that women needed to submit to men; that’s a minority position. Slavery and the inferiority of black people had biblical roots; now, not so much.

    The courage of the self-outing movement in the 80s and 90s led directly to the normalization of homosexuality and gay marriage. Traditionalists can preach that gays are objectively disordered (spend some time at Dreher’s blog and comments for some lovely views), but everyone else sees them as that nice couple next door with those cute adopted kids.Report

  13. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:


    In fact, [the US] vastly rich. So its budget is bound to dwarf the others.

    Is that really true? If at one time way back we spent, say, 20% of our GDP providing clean drinking water, does that mean that it would be totally reasonable for us to be doing that now, or do we reach a point where we have satisfied our need for that good and we can spend our newfound wealth on more useful things? What makes military spending special in that it must scale with GDP rather than being purchased until we have enough to satisfy our needs?

    If you were a Martian and you didn’t know anything about our world and I asked you how much money my country should spend on defense, I don’t think the only question you’d ask is, “How much ya got?”Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      A good chunk of the expense our military incurs is buying & maintaining “all those wonderful toys!” (& training people to use & maintain them). On the con side, they are extremely expensive. On the pro side, they can magnify the effectiveness of our service members in certain ways so much that we don’t need as many bodies in the military.

      Of course, if we weren’t busy operating & occasionally destroying said toys in wars that have debatable value to our national interests, the cost would be a lot lower.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        Given the investment in technology, we should theoretically be able to get the same amount of bang for less and less money over time as our capital investments pay off. But we keep spending more, so we’re either buying more war making capability or we’re actually getting less for our dollar. I don’t think it’s the latter, so it seems that we’re constantly upgrading our war making ability with no apparent stopping point.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        It’s both, actually, as there is little real oversight regarding cost over-runs & unjustifiable expenditures.

        The military regularly overpays for tech (see JSF) because of politics, as well as is regularly saddle with tech it doesn’t really want because of politics. It’s similar with facilities management, as often the military would rather close or reduce or consolidate bases, but is stymied by politicians who don’t want their districts hurt.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “The military regularly overpays for tech”

        I love how people just blithely assume that building a jet fighter is totally easy because we’ve been doing it for a while.

        “oh but it’s over cost / behind schedule!” Just like every other technology development program ever, then. The F-22 took fourteen years from program award to IOC, and thus far the F-35 is on track for that same amount of time.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        The Defense Department has been forced to continue programs the Pentagon itself wanted to cut.

        And the F-35 is a boondoggle. Honestly, I’m pretty sure the Marines added the VTOL requirement simply to get OUT of the F-35 program and were shocked when everyone was like “Sure! Slap it on!”.

        It’s a multi-role plane that, well, is mediocre in all three roles. It costs a ridiculous amount per plane, the development costs were insane, the maintenance costs are insane, and in the end they’ll be lucky if the F-35 matches the performance if the planes it’s replacing. Except the A-10. It won’t for that.

        The F-35 is an excellent example of the politics of defense spending. Too many districts with jobs tied up in it. And what we got? A more expensive (to buy, to service, to maintain, and to fly) plane that at best will be almost as good as the cheaper, reliable, planes it’s replacing.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Remember who I used to work for & what I did for a living. Also remember that I was a Navy mechanic working on over-priced military hardware before that*.

        I know of what I speak.

        The JSF was horribly underbid by everyone & the pentagon, for whatever reason, played right along with that fiction.

        *Some of that over-price stems from the military asking for hardware that is multi-role, which drives up the cost of design & construction in an almost exponential fashion. Some is political, and some is just companies playing the system because the system is stupid.Report

      • Avatar notme says:


        Every tank, plane and ship has a finite lifespan with normal use and must replaced not to mention that some perfectly good equipment that still has a useful lifespan may become technologically obsolete and need to be replaced. So it is not surprising that programs like the F-35 exist.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        That is not the point I was making.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        I would feel more comfortable about a $600B annual defense budget if I thought there were some sort of coherent vision about what it was going to protect us from. The last 10 years has taught us we have the wrong sort of military for long-term occupations, or for suppressing a patient insurgency. We’re clearly not going to tangle with a Russia or a China in their backyards, and neither shows any sign of wanting to be more than dominant in their region of the world. If we’re supposed to be the world’s guarantor of free trade passage — eg, forcing open the Strait of Hormuz of Iran declares it closed — then there’s a whole bunch of other countries that need to be stepping up and volunteering $100B or more for that service. Otherwise, it’s what? A guarantee that certain large companies don’t have to lay off specialized work forces, and propping up the local economy in a hundred places around the country?

        Seriously, what are 2,400 F-35s, most stationed in the US, supposed to provide air superiority over? Mexico?Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “The JSF was horribly underbid by everyone & the pentagon, for whatever reason, played right along with that fiction. ”

        Congratulations, you agree that the JSF isn’t actually behind schedule or overbudget–it’s only behind the wildly optimistic initial schedule and the laughably underfunded initial budget, neither of which were taken seriously by the people actually responsible for getting the thing finished or paying for it.

        What was your argument, again? Oh right, you were an airplane mechanic so that means you know everything about airplanes.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        Oh right, you were an airplane mechanic so that means you know everything about airplanes.

        Try Aerospace Engineer who used to work for The Lazy B on ITAR projects.

        The JSF was a joke to anyone who saw the initial RFP. We are all still baffled the DOD actually pushed ahead with it & can only assume it was congress driving it.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        can only assume it was congress driving it.

        I think that’s probably right. To many of us laypersons, having the different services each have their own distinct planes appears wasteful. They’re all doing basically the same thing, after all, flying around and shooting at things. So instead of wasting money designing a bunch of different ones, why not cut costs by just using the same one? We didn’t–still don’t–understand that the needs actually differed enough to require distinct tools, and that we were asking the armed forced to settle for a swiss army knife instead of specialized tools.

        The members of the Armed Services Committees probably should have known better, and maybe some did, but once elements of the project got parceled out to various congressional districts…. Heck, I had a field day using John Boehner as an example in my American Government class. Simultaneously insisting on budget cuts to satisfy his party members in Congress, while defending the unwanted-by-the-Pentagon second engine for the JSF because it was built in his district. It was a great setup for John Stewart mockery, but what in the hell could Boehner really do in that situation?Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        This, a thousand times this.

        I can take a ship & make it somewhat multi-role, to a limited degree, because weight, power, & volume is less of a concern for a ship than it is for an airplane (you are still limited in what you can do with a ship, but not as limited as a ground vehicle, which is not as limited as an aircraft).

        There is a wisdom in using common parts & supply chains, but it is important to recognize that that commonality will have inherent limits if you want to maintain effectiveness. As with almost everything, the Jack of All Trades is master of none. A plane that works for every mission will be less than ideal for any mission.

        Too many years of making the massively over-engineered planes of yore take on roles they weren’t designed for has led the Unknowing & the Ungrateful into thinking that such can be done with a new platform on the cheap, despite the Unwilling clearly saying it would be nearly Impossible.

        I don’t blame Lockheed or Boeing for responding to the RFP, or even playing Pollyanna with it. But the JSF is a money pit of truly governmental proportions and the military, and the country, will never see anything even remotely approaching an ROI on this, even in the abstract sense.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Even if proportionally we’re not at the top in military spending, there’s not a lot to like about the company we’re keeping.Report

  14. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

    Another interesting one: Scammer books 44 days in a California home on Airbnb, stops paying after 30 days, and then demands tenant rights under California law. Hooray for well-written tenant protection laws.Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

      Hooray for well-written tenant protection laws.

      Sarcasm? #confusedReport

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:


        I wouldn’t mind investing in rental property, except that I’m in California. I have no interest in putting my head into that noose. Far too many horror stories and far too much red tape.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


        New Jersey is also a nightmare state for landlords.

        I wonder if anyone has studied which is worse.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Ugh. Too much like the most unpleasant part of my day job. I’m promised that I get a minion soon, someone to help out with that.Report

    • Avatar Francis says:

      (Madly committing malpractice here, but none of you are clients.)

      It’s very much not clear to me whether a Airbnb booking creates a tenancy. I’d go with the 3-day notice to quit. See if you can’t get this case to the sheriff ASAP.


      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        It’s a tenancy at will. No notice needed to initiate an unlawful detainer action. But a lot of judges don’t realize this, or choose to err on the side of caution and require a notice notwithstanding that the black letter of the law is that no notice is needed.

        If the true owner were to have accepted something of value from the occupant in exchange for the use of the premises, it’s now a tenancy for hire. 3-day notice is required before initiating an unlawful detainer.

        The tenant then has five days to respond to the unlawful detainer lawsuit. Hopefully he does not use some of the dilatory tactics that I so frequently and tediously have to deal with — although for the creative tenant, there are a panoply of such dilatory tactics available.

        After the tenant answers, the plaintiff may then file a document called a “memo to set” and the Court is supposed to set the trial within 20 days thereafter. If the plaintiff wins the trial, then the date for enforcement (that is, when the Sheriff comes and escorts the defendant off the premises) varies from county to county and in large counties, from district to district within the county. In the part of Los Angeles County where I practice law, that time is presently averaging 17 days.

        So, if the owner of the premises finds the airbnb “guest” won’t leave today, July 25, 2014. He drafts and serves a three-day notice to quit then to be safe, the first day the owner can file a lawsuit is July 28. If he serves the lawsuit the same day it’s filed, and the defendant doesn’t screw around with dilatory legal tactics, the lawsuit gets answered August 4 (August 2, the fifth day, falls on a Saturday so the due date advances to the next day the clerk of the court is open for business), and then let’s say the owner is really on the ball and files a memo to set that same day, so trial is set 20 days later on August 25 (August 24 is a Sunday) and then the owner wins the trial, and 17 days later, on September 11, 2014, two sheriff’s deputies (actually, civilian process servers employed by the sheriff) come and evict the crasher.

        That’s pretty much a best-realistic-case scenario, assuming no one screws around with the process and everything happens when it’s supposed to. Obviously the ideal scenario is the owner says, “Time for you to leave,” and the guest does, but this is about the best you can hope for in California if you have to force the issue.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        It looks to me like this guy came with a well informed game plan, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the full array of delay tactics employed to great effect. Depressing.

        Assuming this goes on for a while, do they still accrue debt to the owner for the time they spend living in the home during the proceedings? It seems like the Airbnb rate could ad up to quite a sum over a few months of eviction proceedings. Can the homeowners try to recover some money if they find somebody willing to represent them on general principle?Report

  15. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


    I was wondering why he was wearing an orange Lions jersey.

    The Rock was also a member of the 1991 AP Champion Miami Hurricanes. He can be seen on the sidelines during the 1991 Cotton Bowl in the documentary The U. A friend of mine played against him in college, since Rutgers and Miami were both in the Big East at the time.Report

  16. Avatar notme says:

    You forgot the story about the doctor that brought a gun to work and saved himself and others. Thank goodness he ignored the hospital’s gun free policy. I can’t believe a good gun story made it on the news.