Linky Friday #84

Will Truman

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

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54 Responses

  1. Alan Scott says:

    This would be more convincing if the supply of drugs was cut off due to outside pressure from US death penalty opponents. But as far as I can tell, the countries and companies that once supplied the drug have decided to stop doing so for their own reasons.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Alan Scott says:

      They did it because they don’t want it used in executions. This may be unrelated to the activities of death penalty opponents (who have increasingly been focusing on execution means) but I kind of doubt it.

      In any event, the driver in the scarcity of less inhumane forms of execution, which seems to result in the use of more inhumane forms, is discomfort/opposition to the death penalty. Whether due to activist types or corporations and governments with said discomfort/opposition.Report

      • Don’t forget outdated state laws. In the states with the death penalty where I’ve looked at the statutes, the law typically says something like, “Execution will be carried out by lethal injection. If the use of lethal injection is outlawed at the federal level, execution will be by hanging. If hanging is outlawed at the federal level, a gas chamber will be used.” No provision for inability to obtain the drugs for other reasons.

        The whole thing is silly. I oppose the death penalty, but if you’re going to go that way, it was settled more than a century ago that asphyxiation by inert gas (not CO2) is quick, painless, and sure. As I’ve noted before, one of the reasons Halon fire suppression systems were outlawed was the number of cases where IT folks stuck their head under a raised floor to work on cabling, unaware that leaking Halon had pooled there, and suffocated without noticing that it was happening.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Will Truman says:

        Will, of course they oppose the death penalty. What I’m trying to say is that the Blame argument being made is pretty shaky when it’s the ones making the drug who object.

        The analogy offered was that marijuana prohibitionists who cut off the ability of dispensaries to access banking were to blame for robberies, because if they were allowed to take credit cards they need to keep so much cash.

        A more accurate analogy in this case is that the dispensaries are responsible for being robbed, because if they’d just given the money to that sketchy guy in the corner, he wouldn’t have needed to wave a gun in their face to get it.Report

      • Also the EU governments, which is preventing imports. But in all cases, they fall under the umbrella of “opponents of the death penalty.” But it so happens that in this case the power was in the hands of comparatively few opponents of the death penalty. I suspect, however, that they did so with the support of the anti-DP people. So even if the actual decision is in the hands of a few, the sentiment behind it less so.

        I put myself in the position of the drug company. I oppose the death penalty and wouldn’t want my product being used to perpetuate it. At the same time, if I prevent that from happening, I am actually contributing to the use of more inhumane forms of capital punishment. That’s the tension I think the article is pointing out. I believe it’s quite valid, and I think it extends beyond the decisionmakers to supporters of the decision.

        If you support making it more difficult for executioners to get the drugs needed to make an execution less inhumane, you play a role in executions becoming more inhumane.

        Even if supporters of unbanking dispensaries are not robbing banks, and even if they believe dispensaries should not exist at all, their preferred policies are contributing to the robberies occurring.Report

      • Alan Scott in reply to Will Truman says:

        Sure, but they’re also not the ones growing the pot.

        The Cr4 article isn’t talking about causality–it’s talking about blame. And to say that an entity is to blame for a grisly death because they chose not to supply the killer with a more humane weapon is really, really gross. Like, approaching sexual assault victim-blaming levels of gross.Report

      • It’s not clear to me why one’s role in causality – especially when by deliberate action – doesn’t play a role in blame-assignment.

        Before: “We’re going to make it a priority to prevent states from getting the chemicals needed to do these executions the way they have been.”

        After: “Hey, don’t blame us for this. It’s the pharmaceutical companies and distributors that made the decision not to sell them the chemicals.”

        .. when the decision was (as far as I can tell) the successful result of a concerted campaign on the part of anti-death penalty activists.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    L4: Something that I’ve been wondering about is the impact of the first wave of the first wave of boomers retiring. The kids born in 1946 would have been 65 in 2011 and 67 in 2013… These folks leaving the workplace (for whatever reason) will be leaving absences.

    I suspect, though I don’t know, that the folks who are around this age who are still employed are more likely to be somewhere advanced in the organization rather than in the entry-level positions. When the boomer leaves, everybody cascades up a little bit. The VP is gone, the Senior Manager moves into his office, the Middle Manager becomes a Senior Manager, the Assistant Manager becomes a Middle Manager, The Team Lead becomes a Assistant Manager, the Head Chef becomes a Team Lead, the grill cook becomes a Head Chef, and the fry cook becomes a grill cook.

    And, when they don’t fill the job, it just looks like the company is out of a fry cook. (Or, if times are *REALLY* lean, they turn the grill cook position into Grill/Fry Specialist or whatever and it doesn’t look like they’ve lost a position at all.)

    (And, of course, it’d work the same way if the guy retiring was a Middle Manager… there’d just be fewer positions cascading up.)

    But I can’t help think that phenomenon wouldn’t eventually result in a huge need for fry cooks (or Grill/Fry Specialists) after it happens a couple of times… and we’re only into the 2nd year of 67 year-old Boomers. Soon this is going to turn into something we need to do something about…


    • Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

      what we have seen since the onset of the Great Recession is an amplification of the secular trend of more older people working and delaying retirement (or potentially, not retiring at all).

      But within those numbers is a large class/collar divide (whose exact magnitude really needs to be studied more and sussed out)

      The 55-65 year old who has worked there way up the management ranks at a decent pace is not the guy (person, but probably still guy at that age) leaving as often, and is in any case, not the people to be concerned about. They are well enough taken care of.

      It’s the 55-66 year old person that are ‘company people’ but not per se management (and definitely not top management) that are the ones that get squeezed in any given economic downturn, and every rif action. Because they, due to seniority, are highly paid, even if highly skilled. But when you cut budgets, you need to go to, like Dillinger said, where the money is. (but is now also where the age discrimination suits are). Nonetheless, its also the only way a legacy institution can streamline its organization to adapt to new technological and market conditions.

      And that’s just the white collar side. The blue collar side has the issue that everyone’s health starts to deteriorate by the time one reaches their 40s (even Tom Brady’s and Peyton Manning’s) and so, if you have not transitioned from straight up blue collar work to mostly supervising blue collar work, your body simply can’t put in the hours it used to. Any little injury takes longer to heal up enough to get back to work (or it becomes an even bigger injury) Plus, this is assuming that the worker is part of some stable institution, and not just going from job to job catch as catch can – which again gets harder in the second half of ones working life, discrimination or not. That’s why there’s more people on the disability – unemployment rolls than ever before.Report

    • Gabriel Conroy in reply to Jaybird says:


      When the boomer leaves, everybody cascades up a little bit.

      I’m not so sure, because there might be something like “attrition happens, to make way for new models.” When my grad program was trying to sell grad school to me, one thing many of the vendors was saying was, “all the current professors are getting old and they’ll be retiring soon [and a lot of jobs will open up].” The bracketed part was mostly implied and explicitly stated only weakly.

      That’s just one field of “work,” and it might not translate to others.Report

  3. Saul Degraw says:

    L2: This should be a RICO violation and charge but it won’t be.

    L3: I think that there is a small but large enough percentage of Americans that are real workaholics and immune to any sort of argument about how productivity really does peak around 40-50 hours. I think that many of these workaholics are simply incapable of normal human relationships (like hanging out with friends and lovers and family). They also would not know what to do with themselves if they were not working. Generally these people tend to be highly financially successful. I can tell you about many really wealthy lawyers with horrible to dysfunctional home lives because of the amount of time they work and never seem to relax or sleep and send e-mails at 2 and 3 in the morning. The workaholic class tends to get high into management and demands everyone do as they do. There is a firm that does mandatory half day in the Bay Area and I think they only do this to show how “tough” they are. Interestingly this firm also shuts down for an hour of lunch every day.

    L4: I think this is because employers are still trying very hard to not raise wages post-recession and figure that they can just give workloads to current employees until they find someone willing to take the job at the pay they want to give. There are still a lot of really insulting offers out there for lawyers. I think the “best” one I saw was for around 24K in salary and 6 days of work a week. I can’t imagine they had any takers. Contrary to what the right-wing thinks, I do think that people will not apply for jobs that are below a dignity and decency level. What kind of new lawyer is going to take a job for 24K unless they have money from elsewhere? It would take you a lifetime if ever to get from 24K to a decent legal salary.Report

    • L4 – I think it’s multifactored. In some cases the employers are lowballing pay or highballing requirements. In other cases, I think there are skills/regional mismatches.Report

    • j r in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I think that many of these workaholics are simply incapable of normal human relationships (like hanging out with friends and lovers and family).

      You are really out there sometimes, man.

      L3 is essentially just using a lot of words to say, “my preferred labor-leisure mix is superior to other people’s preferred labor-leisure mix and, therefore, ought to be legally mandated.”Report

  4. Michael Cain says:

    The biggest problem for nuclear in the US, at this point, is the glut of natural gas being produced. Very few people are willing to spend the enormous dollars a new nuke costs (Vogtle units 3 and 4 are now estimated at $15B for the pair) when NG is cheap and a similarly sized NG-fired plant can be built both more quickly and for much less money. To find funding, the Vogtle expansion required (a) federal guarantees of a large part of the debt issue and (b) the Georgia PUC approving adding some of the Vogtle costs to the rate base during construction. The latter is, I believe, unprecedented.

    There are risks associated with the swing to NG. The New England region has made a huge switch to NG from coal and nuclear. Last winter they weren’t able to get adequate supplies of NG — New England imports essentially all of its NG from other regions/countries — delivered to the power plants and were forced to use oil instead (also imported, and normally far too expensive to use to generate electricity). There’s growing evidence that the tight-gas players are not going to be able to service their rather enormous debt load at current NG prices. There are a bunch of other potential NG customers who want to increase their use substantially (chemical industry, LNG exporters). I think it’s likely to turn into a serious mess sometime in the next few years.Report

    • I love natural gas, but one of my concerns is hitching wagons to a finite resource with busts and booms. The same can be said of any fossil fuel, though with cars and gasoline we don’t have a whole lot of choice and with coal there is a depth of overall reserve that, as far as I know, we don’t have (or don’t have sufficient confirmation) for natural gas.Report

      • From the OP, but I’m sticking it down here to keep it within this subthread: Among the many reasons I hope that progress on renewables accelerates is so that we will have a better idea of what its limitations are, so that we can more thoughtfully figure out what we need to do (if anything) to plug the holes.

        For the US Western Interconnect, there’s been a raft of studies at the national labs and elsewhere about how things play out. Statistics and simulations, yeah, but looking in sufficient detail that we know how the intermittency for hydro, wind, and solar will likely interact; the effect of pumped hydro storage (lots of suitable sites); the kind of transmission upgrades necessary to pull it together. The “holes” are modest, and may be handled entirely by some intelligent load shedding. You’re also getting your wish in practice there: Oregon has a periodic glut of renewable power, and the projects that will put a 3GW wind farm in Wyoming feeding power by HVDC into Southern California are moving steadily forward.

        One of the important reasons the Western Interconnect is well studied is that a first approximation says, “Hey, this is a solvable problem.” For the much larger Eastern Interconnect, the first approximation says, “Maybe this is solvable, maybe not, but if it is, it will be bloody expensive.”Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:


        “I love natural gas”

        Clancy on the other hand…..Report

      • She’s not the boss of me.

        Besides, Lain likes natural gas, too. So Clancy is outvoted.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to Michael Cain says:

      If NG inhibits a move to nuclear until we have SMRs in production, it could end up inadvertently producing huge cost savings.Report

      • Earlier this year, both Babcock & Wilcox and Westinghouse made substantial cuts in the funding and staff for their SMR projects. The press releases can be summarized as “No one has shown any interest in actually buying any.” DoE has limited funds to keep things creeping along, but it doesn’t look like there will be any US-based designs for a considerable time (and yes, I know that Westinghouse is actually controlled by Toshiba).

        My own fears are of a Limits to Growth style capital failure. We may be able to afford to roll over the generating plants from coal and old nukes to NG over the next 25 years. There’s certainly sufficient NG to fire those new generators, but at a price that pushes electricity rates much higher. There’s a much bigger question in my mind as to whether we can roll over again on a wholesale basis from NG to something else (SMR? fusion? renewables?) starting 25-30 years down the road from now.

        And of course, everyone knows about my insane notions on what happens :^) When it turns out that the US Western Interconnect states (a) have a smaller problem than the rest of the country, (b) have already (perhaps unintentionally) started down a path that avoids the need for a second wholesale rollover, and (c) will be well and truly pissed when the rest of the country demands the West help pay for the bigger non-Western problem. Where “pay for” could take several different forms.Report

  5. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Cr1 & Cr2: Probably because I’m in tune to the movement, but I see a lot of this kind of violent rhetoric from the gun control movement, which I find odd & extremely disturbing. These are people who are ostensibly opposed to violence & causing harm through violence, except against gun owners & gun rights supporters.

    Talk about dehumanizing & othering, especially given (as I’ve said repeatedly) the vast bulk of gun owners, even the ones who carry in public (concealed or openly), will never shoot, or otherwise intentionally harm another human. This is a big part of why I find a lot of gun control legislation to be exceptionally tone def with regard to gun owners. The people who write it & want it absolutely DO NOT care about the rights of others.

    Let’s just say I am very glad these people have self-selected to not practice their right to own & carry firearms.Report

    • greginak in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      The tragic problem being that the only gun owners the most gun phobic people will hear about are Nugent, guys prancing about in front of schools with ar 15’s and tactical slings to show off their rights and mirror image violent, threatening pro-gun rhetoric.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        Only Darren Wilson and people like him should own guns!Report

      • greginak in reply to greginak says:

        umm yeah Jay. I guess that means something.Report

      • Chris in reply to greginak says:

        The obvious solution is to get rid of Wilson’s gun too.Report

      • j r in reply to greginak says:

        The fact that there are people in favor of swat-ing other people for merely open carrying is proof itself that the people making the threats are coming into contact with more than just your gun nut stereotype.

        Even if you were right, it’s a little like someone saying that he supports stop and frisk policies because all the young black and Hispanic men he sees in real life and on TV are up to no good.Report

      • greginak in reply to greginak says:

        @j-r I don’t know where you live. I live in alaska where people love their guns. I very rarely see anyone open carry unless they are outside recreating in bear country. I’ve traveled all over the US…same thing. Most people, imho, who open carry outside of schools, in malls and on the street, etc are a very small minority of gun owners and are typically trying to make a point. There has a been a significant up tick in people open carrying who say they are trying to desensitize people to open carry and wanting to show they have the right to open carry.

        I don’t support swatting ( oh lord another verb comes into birth) people but i also think its fair to say a lot of people openly carrying would fit the “gun nut” stereotype. Not all, especially depending on the context, but most.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to greginak says:


        And, much like the GC activists who use violent rhetoric, they are by and large a minority, just a very noisy & annoying one (i.e. I do not worry that some activist is going to attack me).

        I do worry that more people will engage in the idea of calling the cops for a “Man with a gun” & getting people hurt or killed. That right there is why I hope the guy who SWAT’d crawford gets prosecuted, so such ideas remain in the realm of noisy hyperbole, & not become a real thing that prosecutors ignore or treat lightly.Report

      • greginak in reply to greginak says:

        @mad-rocket-scientist The obvious problem though is when should someone call the cops when they see a person with a gun. I’m not in favor of calling the cops every time i see someone with a gun. that is not a good idea. But there is no way to tell whether the gun carrying the AK in downtown is just going for a nice safe stroll or just about to start shooting. I know the NRA has the “good guy with a gun” bs, but no one can read other peoples mind to know if they are a good guy or not. Most open carry is going to get everybody watching the person with a gun, without any way of knowing what the deal is. That is an ambiguity open carry is inviting. I don’t see any easy solution as long as people open carry. Lord knows holding a bb gun in a walmart lead to the death of some poor black guy.

        Concealed carry makes complete sense to me. Most open carry seems to me like a combo of provocation and showing off.Report

      • j r in reply to greginak says:


        I know Alaska quite well and all I can say is that how do you even know what anyone is carrying under all that Carhart?Report

      • Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

        One of the conveniences of my Carhardt is that I can actually easily fish my smartphone out of its holder. Aesthetically, I like the jacket to come down a bit more, but if you need a smartphone or a gun out of your holster, it’s probably better than the alternatives!

        (It’s actually quite sad. In 2003, I purchased a jacket from Walmart. It’s old and its zipper is broken, but in all of the years since, I have yet to find a jacket I love nearly as much as that one. Alas, there’s no brand name attached to it. So I’m on a never-ending quest to find a jacket that’s roughly as good. No success, at Walmart or anywhere else.)Report

      • James Hanley in reply to greginak says:

        Is it too old to be still good if you just have a seamstress replace the zipper? You can probably take it down to a local dry cleaner and get the zipper replaced for about $20.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to greginak says:

        I am inclined to say “It’s falling apart” but I’ve been inclined to say that for going on five years now.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to greginak says:

        See, more proof that every single item Wal Mart sells is of unacceptably poor quality.Report

      • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to greginak says:


        If they are being aggressive or threatening, you call the cops. Just like with anyone else.Report

    • Let’s just say I am very glad these people have self-selected to not practice their right to own & carry firearms.

      I don’t know that that’s the case. Carl Rowan shot a kid in his backyard, for example.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      Did y’all hear about the guy whose laptop was stolen and, in order to ensure a response from the cops, he told the cops that the in-actuality-unarmed thief had a gun and they shot him dead? Absurd.Report

  6. Chris says:

    Related to some of the stories in C7:

    My brother was unemployed for a while following grad school, and paid his rent with money he made through AirBnB, which he continues to do now that he’s gainfully employed. He recently hosted a nice couple from Taiwan, who were touring the West coast. They’d been in Seattle before Eugene, and when he asked what they thought of it, they said they didn’t like it because there were too many black people.

    I suggested he recommend Atlanta or Memphis for their next trip to the States.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

      Wow….what would you even say to that? That’s like a real-life Borat moment.

      I’d probably do what people do with Borat, which is just let it pass without comment.

      I don’t think I’d be prepared to rapidly work through the “gobsmacked at plainspoken racism / awareness of our cultural differences / pity at their ignorance / default politeness to guests [PAYING guests, no less]” matrix quickly enough to arrive at an appropriate response.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        I guess if I recovered my balance quickly enough, I might gently try to tease out why they’d say such a thing? It’s possible, I suppose, they didn’t mean it *quite* as bad as it sounds, or maybe a small conversation might help them think about things differently (I had a situation recently, where I found myself slipping into “those people”-type thought patterns with another minority group, and I had to keep telling myself that what was getting under my skin was a a result of a clash of cultures/classes, not anything inherent to the ethnicity itself. So I am aware it’s certainly easy to slip up, and assign the thing you are really annoyed with, to the group).

        But I am not sure I’d know where to begin in the moment. Maybe a direct “that’s a pretty messed-up thing to say/think”, delivered in a matter-of-fact tone (trying to avoid sounding angry or judgmental) would work better at opening it up.

        I dunno.Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        Yeah, he let it pass in silence.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

        When I was in college, for a year my RA was from Ireland. He came and went and I didn’t have much of an opinion of him one way or the other other than that he was less engaged than his predecessor or successor.

        Some time later, we ran into one another at a live music bar. He came up and said hello. He commented that even though he had left the university(maybe graduated, not sure) he still read my column in the school paper and liked it a great deal. I thanked him. Then he said “The [paper] needs more writers who put niggers in their place*” and explained that was why he quit being an RA.

        This is, in many ways, far worse than the China guy because he’d been in the US for at least a couple of years. He’d also attended a school that was majority-minority with a sizable black population. So it wasn’t like he lacked exposure, and his exposure was to a disproportionately educated fraction of the black population. The only real “defense” – other than having spent a few years here rather than his whole life – was that he was probably intoxicated… but that’s the sort of thing where intoxication has an unfiltering effect rather than a say-things-you-don’t-mean effect.

        I honestly can’t remember how I responded. I was pretty jarred. He said we should chat later, but I made a pretty hasty exit after the show was over.

        * – It should go without saying that my column did not actually attempt to serve this function.Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        Wow. I might have fallen off my bar stool.Report

  7. Will Truman says:

    Post has been updated with a picture of Lain under “Crime”… I’d hoped to find this picture before the post went up, but actually stumbled on it just now.Report

  8. Brandon Berg says:

    Ch1: I can’t remember whether I’ve pointed this out here before, but the study represented has been hugely misrepresented. The “elite” in this study were defined as people at the 90th percentile in the income distribution. The interpretation the media were pushing was that this must be because the rich are throwing their money around to influence Congress, but this obviously doesn’t fly when we’re talking about people making around $100,000/year.

    The most likely explanation is that policy most closely resembles the preferences of the upper middle class because Congressmen are drawn mostly from the upper middle class, and bring their own preferences and values with them to Congress.

    Really, what this study shows is that policy is more influenced by the educated, professional class than by blue-collar high school graduates. Given that the latter statistically have more informed, intelligent beliefs than the former about many issues, I’m not sure why I should regard this as a problem.Report

    • Murali in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Really, what this study shows is that policy is more influenced by the educated, professional class than by blue-collar high school graduates. Given that the latter statistically have more informed, intelligent beliefs than the former about many issues, I’m not sure why I should regard this as a problem.
      don’t you mean the other way around? The former (educated professionals) have more informed, intelligent beliefs than the latter (highschool grads). </pedantry>Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Murali says:

        Err…yeah. Former. Multiple seconds elapsed between the typing of those two sentences, so you can’t really expect me to keep track of stuff like that.Report