Linky Friday #87


Will Truman

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

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71 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    T2- The driverless car may be farther away than its proponents think. It seems that the programming the maps necessary for driverless cars is a much harder than imagined.

    Its also important that even if driverless cars are a reality, it might still be important to have multiple modes of transit for a variety of reasons. First, there is nothing to prevent a driverless car traffic jam. Two, if you want to decrease sprawl than rail-based transit and changes in land use and zoning are the way to go. Three, not everybody is going to be able to afford driverless cars even as a rental service.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      “Yes, I’m still here”
      “Yes, you’re still stupid.”

      I’m sorry, but if computers are routinely passing the Turing test, devising new and complex chemical formula for recipes, and editing wikipedia, I think that the idea of computers being able to solve routine “drive on snow” problems AS WELL as humans can, is not a terribly difficult one.

      I still give it 10 years before we see full market penetration on commercial vehicles. 5 for the easy routes.

      Commercial “on the road” driving doesn’t need every single road. Google’s smart to not build for it, in fact.

      Of course, google says it’s driven 700,000 miles safely. It doesn’t bother telling you about the miles it’s driven unsafely (they fixed that “bug”).

      Google’s more likely to detour a truck around “construction zones” than try to bother dealing with signs and mapping “road closed” issues, as it’s fairly dynamic.

      I ask google to solve the /profitable/ challenges, but if they’re going commercial first, shouldn’t that be a good thing? (except for Road Scholar, who may be out of a job…)Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar says:

        I’m not worried about it. I figure there will at least be a considerable transition period where the job of truck “driver” morphs into “operator.” Driving per se isn’t all I do. There’s pre- and post-trip equipment inspections, fueling, minor repairs, occasional loading or unloading duties, etc. If you pull a flatbed there’s tarps, straps, and chains to deal with. There’s a lot that can be automated and a lot that’s going to be tougher.

        But I do anticipate the day coming before I retire when I can pull onto the freeway and put the rig in full auto mode and have it wake me a few hours later.

        But consider: Trains still have crews and they run on fucking tracks, so there’s that.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      First, there is nothing to prevent a driverless car traffic jam.

      I believe that’s not so. Traffic jams are related to total congestion and to whatever kind of obstacles appear, but even more so to the human reactions to those things. Humans do not merge smoothly when the number of lanes is being reduced, but computers can do that well.

      Humans are apt to brake for just a moment when they see a guy changing a tire on the side of the road, or because they got too close to the car in front of them. This can cause chain-reaction braking, which is why sometimes you’re in freeway traffic that’s going so slow and braking so frequently that you suspect there’s a big accident, and then you suddenly hit that spot where everything opens up and the flow of traffic speeds up, without there ever having been any actual obstacles to slow traffic. Computers can easily resolve that.

      City traffic jams are caused primarily by intersections. Everyone has to stop, at least for a stop sign, or maybe for the length of a traffic signal, causing traffic to back up. Often people will try to get through the light and get stuck in the intersection, blocking traffic that has the green light. Computers can resolve that problem as well by not stopping cars but letting them weave through each other (see simulation here.

      Will driverless cars eliminate all traffic jams? I wouldn’t bet much on that. It’s conceivable that congestion rates could increase to the point that even computers couldn’t keep it all flowing smoothly–there is simply a limit to road capacity. Maybe even in some places at certain times we’re already at that capacity. But I’d throw out a seat of the pants conjecture that upwards of 90% of all traffic jams that occur today would not occur with driverless cars. Traffic might still slow down at congestion times, but you’re not going to get the stop-and-go freeway driving of L.A. or the snarled intersections of downtown Chicago.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller says:

        That might be true for highways, but for city driving I’m betting rush hour will be just as hellish as ever. There just isn’t enough room for everyone in Manhattan or the Chicago Loop to occupy a single-occupant vehicle the size of a sedan and advance with any sort of speed, especially when the roads are being used for other things as well (pedestrians, truck deliveries, etc.). Of course, even reducing congestion on highways would be a major shift, so I don’t mean to downplay it.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I’m spitballing here, but I wonder if driverless cars and the centralized system by which they communicate would allow for variably-timed lights in city areas that might help alleviate (though not eliminate) traffic.

        I know some areas already have lights timed differently at different times of the day, but this does not adjust in real time. Being able to do so would seem to be a huge step forward.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I think Carnegie Mellon is already doing something like that — more on the level of “walk signs if people are waiting” and “green lights if someone is waiting for them”.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        Once you get central communication going and the computer operating the lights knows where everybody wants to go (not just “I want to pass through this intersection”), you get a whole bunch of solutions that aren’t possible without central coordination. Solving for a better way to route everybody, adjusting light timings, and feeding back modified routes to everybody in the jam becomes a very reasonable possibility.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Central direction is all phase thre stuff. We may never get there in the US because freedom.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        As a kid, I always thought that centralizing it would mean most cars didn’t even stop. You input your route and the system already anticipates where your path crosses others and adjusts speeds accordingly. You’d have a first-come, first-served system with preschedule routes available. Only emergency inputs (e.g., fire trucks) would upset the system.Report

      • Avatar nevermoor says:

        In a world where all cars are driverless, city throughput is one of the most extreme benefits. This, for example, shows how much more efficient intersections could be.

        That said, the biggest problem for that kind of thing would be liability. If I cause a crash now, I pay. If my driverless car causes a crash, Google pays. I suspect insurers would need a LOT of data before they’d be willing to help Google with that.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Most countries are lesslitigious than our own, so there’s a decent chance that the phase two vehicles will debut somewhere else before making it here.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Most countries are less litigious because getting into a car accident is less of virbranting disaster because universal healthcare and other welfare state measures lowers the impact. Most people know that any injuries will be taken care of and any time needed off from work won’t be used against them.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        The congestion is precisely what creates the extra gain from driverless cars.The fewer the cars on the road, the less the advantage in terms of smoothing traffic flow. That advantage is a rising value as congestion increases, because it’s primarily the inefficiencies in human performance that prevent congested traffic from still flowing smoothly. It’s the keeping people out of intersections, the smoothing of lane changes, the greater efficiency of left-hand turns, etc. etc. that will prevent congestion from turning into clogging.

        Plus, with the increased safety from self-driving cars people may be content with smaller vehicles that take up less space. Not as small as Google’s car–that appears to be designed by a bunch of childless engineers who have no fricking clue how much space a trombone takes up. But still, smaller.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I think @dan-miller is right that it will reduce congestion, but not eliminate it. Reduction would be a huge benefit, though, across the board: economics, lifestyle, and environmentally. But there will still be urban places where there are more cars than places to put them.

        I also wanted to add that the congestion reduction wouldn’t just be by reducing the inefficiencies of human driving, but also by load-balancing the roads by re-routing the cars.

        This is, though, all Phase Three stuff, though. We’re not yet at Phase Two, and may never get beyond it (or won’t until people who are used to driving and enjoy it have died off).Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @leeesq That’s a reason, but not the only reason. It goes well beyond medical bills (or even tangible damages), for better or worse.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        There are also cultural factors to our litigious nature. From what I’ve heard, most countries that get their legal tradition from England tend to resort to litigation to solve problems more than civil law countries.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        also by load-balancing the roads by re-routing the cars.

        It seems to me that that has the same pitfalls as program trading, e.g. every car on the road choosing what at the previous check was the least congested route.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        The load balancing works optimally if there is a ground traffic control. It could be of benefit without it, the same way that Waze is, because if it constantly monitors traffic, it’ll have a better idea if too many people have already taken a particular back route.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller says:

        @will-truman I have to say that as a non-car-owner who commutes to work on foot, this conversation is making my blood run cold. It sounds like I’m seen as an inefficiency to be ironed out of the system, and that driverless cars could lead to some seriously unfriendly street design.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I think@Dan Milleris right that it will reduce congestion, but not eliminate it.

        Well, I did make that point in my first comment, to which Dan Miller was responding, so I don’t think anyone’s actually arguing about that.

        It seems to me that [load balancing] has the same pitfalls as program trading, e.g. every car on the road choosing what at the previous check was the least congested route.

        I suppose that depends on how sophisticated the algorithms and communication are. Contra Will, I don’t think that requires ground control, just lots of communication between vehicles, even if indirectly. That is, if each vehicle’s position is known, there is (close to) instantaneous knowledge of how loads are being balanced, so that my car, say, knows that X cars have already routed to alternative route 1, Y cars to alternative route 2, and can choose the least congested of the available routes. It may not be perfect, particularly if in heavy traffic too many cars have to make simultaneous choices–if the information about each isn’t actually quite available instantaneously to all the others–so that too many may choose route X when, say, ideally 50% would choose alt rout 1, 30% alt route 2, and 20 percent the original route. But I’m guess it will still be an improvement over the present situation. That is, I’m banking big on you techies to provide a system that’s superior to all of us individuals making individual and poorly informed choices.

        as a non-car-owner who commutes to work on foot, this conversation is making my blood run cold. It sounds like I’m seen as an inefficiency to be ironed out of the system, and that driverless cars could lead to some seriously unfriendly street design.

        Maybe, but maybe not. If we can get cars moving through space more efficiently, we may not need such big streets because we’ll be using our existing space more efficiently. How municipal street departments will actually respond though, is admittedly an unknown. But the cars will be much more responsive to pedestrians than current drivers are, because they’ll be much more attentive to them–systems designed to constantly scan the environment for obstacles and avoid them are incomparably superior to the average distracted or tunnel vision driver out there. I would predict that pedestrian injuries/accidents will drop dramatically and the streets will become much safer for pedestrians to cross. There may still be a need for walk/don’t walk signals, but they’ll communicate directly with the car’s computer, rather than depending on drivers who may be trying to beat the light or making a right turn while looking to the left for traffic and not seeing the pedestrians in the crosswalk.

        In all truth, as I’ve been following this topic, the issue of safety, for both in-car folks and pedestrians, is what has me most enthused. Hundreds of pedestrians are killed by cars each month –over 4,000 a year–in the U.S. Getting rid of the human driver factor will eliminate almost all of those (perhaps not the drunken stumble into the road directly in front of a car ones, but nearly all the others).

        I think it’s hard for us to imagine how game-changing this is going to be for auto-safety, but I’m betting it’s going to have greater positive safety effects than seat-belts, air bags, safety glass, and collapsible steering wheels combined. (I should actually run the numbers on those first–maybe those have already reduced fatalities by more than half, which would make my outcome an impossibility. But even so I think it will be in that range–i.e., eliminating 90% or more of remaining annual casualties.)Report

  2. Avatar Chris says:

    P5: funny, all I’ve heard about the new “Ebola Czar” is that he’s a “Political operative.”Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      The definition is fluid.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I first heard it on NPR, of all places. The talking point seems to have been, “I don’t know why Obama would hire a partisan political operative,” and as often as I heard the exact same language.

        I just wanted someone to say, “Why the fuck do we need an ebola czar?”Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Because the CDC can’t make anyone do a damn thing. Ebola czar is there to twist arms, make sure people know the consequences (blackmail is appropriate in this case), and make sure supplies go to where they need to go.

        CDC just gave us new guidelines on Monday. I’ll let you know when we actually get the equipment to safely use said guidelines.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        A ‘czar’ technically can’t do anything either (really, even less, because he or she by definition* doesn’t have any statutory authority) – all czars can do is assert the implicit power of the unitary executive and hope people listen.

        *definition in the sense that a czar is a policy coordinator in a position created by, and only answerable to the executive branch, and not a pre-1917 Russian absolute monarch unfettered by any competing legal authority.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      I just loved the whole how the attitude shifted based on the party of the appointing politician, and no one seemed to notice (at the site in question).

      Consistency, the hobgoblin of little minds.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        It’s definitely unsurprising, though as jr notes below, the two positions are different enough that it might be possible to argue for the difference in treatment.Report

  3. Avatar Glyph says:

    Here’s a small piece I thought well-written, on death as dramatic device in entertainment.

    (Beware, it does contain what appears to be a spoiler for the conclusion of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians trilogy).Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      That was good (and moving). I agree with his premise that ‘cheap’ dramatic deaths are either lazy or shallow (or both), but disagree somewhat with his criticism of analogy with mental illness: there is plenty of room for resurrection as metaphor for a wide variety of things (especially in the Western cultural tradition – and particularly non-anglo Western cultural tradition).Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I haven’t read the book, but I read his criticism not of simply resurrection as analogy/metaphor (which, I agree, holds lots of resonance to lots of things), but more specifically resurrection as metaphor for something that is basically impossible – the idea that you can coax someone out of mental illness or depression.

        Again, I haven’t read the book so I can’t say whether he is correct in his assessment the story does that, but IRL it doesn’t work that way, and suggesting it can does seem at best shallow/naive, and at worst actively harmful. I’m not Jesus, and my depressed loved one isn’t Lazarus.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        I still think that’s overly reductive. Mental illness is an incredibly complex thing (maybe the most complex thing), and the current state of the art medical science is only at the leeches and humours stage (if that far) in its diagnosis and treatment. But one can assume, eventually, that human will crack the code and be able to kick start a malfunctioning brain the way a defibrillator does for a heart (or if that analogy is inept, the way surgery, radiology and chemo can (sometimes) beat cancer)

        But even in this here world, one example I’ve seen recently of using resurrection in a metaphor for mental illness is in True Detective (Season 1). True, it was an analogy that didn’t have SAT colons all over it (as good art, it shouldn’t), but it definitely was there. And done well.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        assuming that anything is Actually Wrong. Some “diseases” can have easily understood survival benefits. Others are a bit harder to understand, but they’re there as well (including depression, which looks a lot like the “sickness syndrome” coopted into a different, more advanced paradigm than “my body is sick, so I should sleep and get better”)

        Besides, for all we know, what mental diseases really need is a particular micronutrient. or abscence of pythalates.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I probably should just leave it, having not read the book, but I have seen TD and I still think he’s more right than wrong, if I understand how the Grossman book is handling things.

        Agreed that we know little about mental illness, and agreed that we hopefully will get better at understanding/treating it.

        Va GQ gur urnyvat-gung-bpphef-ivn-erfheerpgvba vf zber be yrff, yvxr gur havirefr Pbuyr oryvrirf va, enaqbz punapr. Pbuyr vfa’g fnirq ol Jbbql’f snvgu va uvz, ur’f fnirq orpnhfr ur unf n ivfvba/qeht synfuonpx, naq gura fbzr ahgwbo thgf uvz jvgu n xavsr, naq ur fheivirf.

        Vg fbhaqf yvxr va gur Tebffzna obbx gur erfheerpgvba bs gur ybirq bar bpphef qhr fbyryl gb gur gveryrff tbbq rssbegf bs gur cebgntbavfg, fbzrguvat gung nyzbfg pregnvayl jbhyq unir gb or “zntvp”, va gbqnl’f jbeyq.

        Again, I don’t see the piece’s criticism as necessarily being that the metaphor *cannot* work; just that in the book’s instance, it *does not* given the way it was handled there and the world we live in.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        K and Glyph,
        you might be surprised at how much we know about mental illness. The primary problem with psychology is that most reputable psychologists are entirely too squeamish (letting aside the IRBs).Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        gehr qrgrpgvir uvg lbh bire gur urnq jvgu gur snpg gung ehfg nf n puevfg svther va uvf ubfcvgny fprar va gur ynfg rcvfbqr v.r. uvf ersyrpgvba ba gur tynff. ehfg jnf abg dhvgr evtug va gur urnq qhr gb nf lbh fnl, gur qrngu bs uvf qnhtugre naq uvf cebybatrq qeht hfr ohg tbg n ovg orggre (nccneragyl) jvgu uvf arne qrngu rkcrevrapr. v qba’g guvax vg jbexf yvxr gung, rvgure.

        gubhtu gb or snve, v sbhaq guvf gb or gur bayl erny jrnxarff bs gur fubj – gur unccvyl rire nsgre vzcyvpngvba sbe obgu ehfg naq znegl frrzrq gbb cng. (abg rira pbhagvat gung ehfg fubhyq unir oyrq bhg jvgu gung xavsr jbhaq orsber rzgf jbhyq unir orra noyr gb ernpu uvz)

        we are really just a nit apart though, I agree that without reading the book, it’s impossible to say that the specific analogy in the Magicians works or not, and so Hughes’ judgement that it does not work may be accurate. However, I read Hughes as saying it *cannot* work (“ugly, nasty idea in its own right”) and it’s with such a categorical dismissal that I disagree.

        Kim, that’s why I said it’s the most complex thing. We don’t really understand what’s going on in brains, we’ve done (as societies and governments) horrible things imagining we think we know what’s going on in brains. and developing a notional hypothetical prosthesis for the brain has a host more ethical and philosophical issues that developing those for arms, legs, eyes, and ears.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @kolohe – I read the “ugly idea” not as the resurrection itself, nor the resurrected as the healed; but with ‘protagonist as resurrector/healer/savior’ (more specifically, the idea that the protagonist-by-extension reader can ever do such a thing IRL).

        His beef IMO isn’t with the ‘Lazarus’ in the story getting better, but with the ‘Jesus’ who somehow raises Lazarus, and what that metaphor would mean for us as protagonist-identifying readers (if you are depressed, I can’t just tell you to cheer up a whole lot and save you; that’s pure wish-fulfillment nonsense).Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Mental illness is caused by repressed memories; force the victim to remember whatever it was, and he’s on the road to recovery. I mean, people knew that back during the Koream War. (At least, M*A*S*H used that plot a half-dozen times.)Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Just like you need to get hit in the head an even number of times if you don’t want to have amnesia forever. That’s just settled science.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I’ve never heard that … (THUD) Oh yeah, of course.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      This is a good piece, but I take some exception with this:

      I’ve become a death elitist in the last few months. I watch actors, analyze scripts, judge the editing and the pacing of death scenes, try to gauge whether anyone involved has a real understanding of grief.

      Being an elitist is often enough inimical to having a “real understanding.” What the author really appears to be doing is analyzing scripts and performances to gauge whether anyone has his understanding of grief.

      Sounds like his girlfriend’s death hit him pretty hard, which is to be expected. Lots of people, however, go through similar situations and never fall to the level of depression that he did. And lots of people go through similar situations and fair even worse, falling into levels of depression from which they never fully recover.

      There is no one normalized response to death or expression of grief.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I didn’t get the impression he was saying everyone reacts (or should react) they way he has, and I read the tiniest bit of self-deprecating black humor into the phrase “death elitist”; as though he knows on one level how obsessive and absurd what he’s doing potentially is, but he still wants to make a point – not that creators shouldn’t use death as a dramatic device, but they should aspire to use it as meaningfully as possible, if they want to create great art.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Like I said, I think that it’s a good piece. My point is a minor one.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I thought that the arc of “death as dramatic device” was done perfectly by the Sopranos. Remember that first season? WHOA! They totally shot that guy! And remember second season??? They shot that guy, then they shot that guy, then they shot *THAT* guy.

      You’re in a limp puddle on the coach after that.

      Then by the 5th season, you open a door and there’s a dead guy on the toilet.

      It ceases to be shocking and starts being an obvious way for the writers to deal with the question of “how are we going to deal with this problem?”

      It started being shocking and compelling for that. It ended up being a parody of itself.Report

  4. Avatar Kolohe says:

    V1: A Tale of Momentum and Inertia and Where Acceleration Due to Gravity Varies Occasionally From 9.81 m/s^2 If One Is A Rock Monster.

    P3: The data of the Vox piece is better than the narrative. (i.e. the 1992 outlier deserves to be sussed out more). The narrative is missing the small detail that it is sufficient demonstration of Tea Party influence in the ‘move to the right’ of incumbents that have maintained their seats since 2006. The narrative is also missing the bigger detail that Republicans went from a minority (in the House) before the 2010 election to a majority after it – meaning that Tea Party influence and power wouldn’t be demonstrated nearly as much in the election prospects of incumbents that year. (and would carry forward to 2012 as the now incumbent freshmen in their first re-election would often have the de facto Tea Party seal of approval). (The analysis also ignores the important effect that Tea Party populism had in swinging state legislatures towards the Republicans, which, as been said before, a very consequential victory in a census year).Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      V1: Ummm, this is a world where there are such things as “Rock Monsters”, and no one is talking about heavy metal concert series of the 80’s. I think we can safely dispense with other commonly held physics norms.Report

  5. Avatar Kim says:

    Play it the other way. Alphas aren’t terribly well suited towards monogamy in the first place (they tend to get mistresses), and that works out EXTREMELY poorly when you’re poor, which alphas are increasingly.

    The “conservadems” was a cool classification. “Pro torture and pro social welfare” — also much more ethnic than liberals.Report

  6. Avatar j r says:

    P1: Another data point for my theory that progressives stopped being liberal sometime in ’80s.

    F1: Classic bait and switch from Noah Smith. He starts by talking about the differences between ostensibly conservative and ostensibly liberal views on marriage and family and then pivots into talking about the differences between the educated and relatively wealthy and those lower down on the income scale. Somewhere in that post he begins to equate educated and wealthy with liberal, but never really explains why except to say:

    How can the people who preach sexual license be the same ones who have rebuilt their families, while lower-class people who profess more conservative values are seeing their families crumble?

    I don’t know, Noah. How can that be? Maybe if he presented some actual data or evidence that this is the case, I would take this theory more seriously. Until then, it’s just partisan speculation.

    P5: In all fairness to Crooks and Liars, the first post is in reference to an appointment to head the Ohio Department of Public Health and the second post is about the quasi-official position of “Ebola Czar.” And the second post does question why we need an Ebola Czar at all. Where it is fair to gig Crooks and Liars is that the have no problem cashing in on Ebola fears when it’s time to bash a Republican.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Yeah, well, authoritarian personalities tend strongly, strongly republican (currently at least). and they’re about 50% of republicans right now. They’re also becoming steadily poorer.Report

    • Avatar LWA says:

      F1: It only seems paradoxical that liberals are building strong families, if your vision of liberals is that they favor unihhibited sexual license.

      Who nowadays is speaking in favor of that? The biggest issue in the liberal field is same sex marriage, that is, encouraging gay people to become stable, monogamous households. The other issues like universal health care, universal education, and economic security are all directly supporting the notion of a stable society with fixed values and boundaries.

      If the definition of “liberal” is the classic one of increasing emphasis on the individual, then yes, liberals have stopped becoming liberal. Right about the time I joined them, coincidentally.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        I never said it was paradoxical. I am saying that it is likely not true.

        Yes, wealthier, more educated people appear to get married more, stay married longer, and invest more time and money in their children; that is why they tend to be wealthier and more educated. What does that have to do with political affiliation?Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    P4: I largely agree with this. I think people call themselves moderate because moderate can be used as a synonym for reasonable/rationale. People generally think of themselves as reasonable. There are very few people out there who call themselves extremists or nuts. I knew a guy who called himself moderate but talked about ending the Fed and believed that the Rothschilds (read: The Jews) controlled the World Economy. He also said that when his friends said he was being anti-Semitic, he did not think so because in his mind he was stating simple facts and not arguing “Kill the Jews!!!!”

    P5: People are partisan. People notice partisanship more on the side that they disagree with. In other news, Franco is still did.

    F1: This article generally fits my worldview.

    R2: This article generally reads as true to me as a 34-year old college and above educated male. I just don’t feel like I am in a stable enough position to be a dad yet but I went to law school a bit later than most people and graduated into a bad market. I just feel like I should be on more solid career ground before I am marriage material and considering starting a family. My ethics generally tell me that I should be upfront when between projects/assignments. If you were to tell me that I will always be a permanent freelancer whether I stuck with law or not, my solution would be to not have kids.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      P5: I just love how openly it is displayed here. That’s all.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        One has significant managerial experience, the other is a former lobbyist whose expertise is in ‘event planning’ and ‘public affairs and communications’.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I’m not saying that both of them can’t do the damn job. But Ohio says: “here’s the qualifications”. That’s what Ohio thinks the position needs to get up and running quickly.

        I can sit here all day and talk supply chains till I’m blue in the face — and then bring in economies of scale. It’s probable that both folks can’t do that — but there’s always the question of staffing, isn’t there? Obama’s czar can UNDOUBTEDLY call on the military (if they have a branch looking at Global Warming, this is an issue of national security too)Report

  8. Avatar Kim says:

    What, now people are in favor of IRAN’s take on marriage? People would do well to understand why it works so well in Iran before they think about trying it here.Report

  9. Avatar Kim says:

    Yes, but the number has dropped dramatically in recent years (not so much because of incest, mind — but abortion).Report

  10. Avatar Pinky says:

    F4 is really confused. The Catholic Church hasn’t changed its view of sexual activities and sexual sins. It has long promoted celibacy. Both the pro-gay and anti-gay activists see the gay as somehow different from the straight, but that has never been the view of the Church. We’re all in the struggle against our fallen nature, and we all want things that are bad for us. St. Catherine of Siena often said that God has made the human will supreme, that there is nothing that can make a person sin other than his own will. That’s what we all have to deal with. That’s always been the Church’s teaching. It’s always taught compassion toward the struggling sinner.

    The thing you have to remember is that the Catholic Church is huge, and has an enormous number of teachings. Millions of people have been thinking, praying, and debating these things for thousands of years (ok, a couple of years short of “thousands”, but not when you consider how much of its theology is built on Judaism). What an individual may encounter from the Catholic Church may change over his lifetime, but that represents only a change in practice or emphasis, not a change in principles. The diamond doesn’t change as you walk around it, but the play of the light brings out different aspects of its beauty.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      The principle, as I understand the AMERICAN branch of the Catholic church uses, is that homosexual sex is no more of a sin than masturbation (which is to say: yes, sinful, but pretty minor when it comes down to it all).Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        It’s a bit awkward to refer to something as more or less sinful. Sin has an objective and subjective side. The primary distinction between kinds of sin is mortal versus venial. A mortal sin is grave matter which, if done with full knowledge and full consent, separates the soul from God. The difference between mortal and venial sins is huge. Masturbation, homosexual acts, and illicit heterosexual acts are all mortal sins. Even Americans would admit that – although they may put a greater emphasis on the pastoral aspect of reconciliation.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        *nods* my point is not to say that they are not grave sins (I’m not a catholic, I don’t really care). It’s just to say that homosexual acts are on the same level as masturbation, which surely at least one catholic does every day. In other words, nothing special.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        So, we’re rating sins in terms of their frequency? I imagine that right now, 400 people are torturing cats, a few hundred thousand are using the Lord’s name in vain, and a quarter of a billion are lying, on some level, about something. None of that tells me how much damage any of them are doing to themselves, others, or their relationship with God. I just don’t see the payoff in measuring the regularity of a particular sin.Report

    • Avatar Michael M. says:

      What exactly is confusing? The article seems to me to be talking about are what you refer to as changes in practice that are developing within the Catholic Church, not necessarily changes in principles.Report

  11. Avatar Pinky says:

    H1: Ethnic plastic surgery doesn’t seem much sadder than regular plastic surgery. And it was a fairly frustrating article in general. It didn’t go into depth about the ethical implications at all. It just mentioned the different procedures that could be seen as ethically problematic. The author definitely did her research, but what she came up with was mainly the cv’s of the most influential doctors in the field. Plastic surgery seems to have two completely different agendas, curing deformities and catering to vanities. I’d like to know a little more about how surgeons find their way between the important, low-revenue work and the superficial, high-end stuff.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      You heard a little of it — it’s the same work.

      I found it quite frankly “wow” that someone would ever want to get rid of high cheekbones. I like high cheekbones (Pearl Buck wrote movingly that they were a beauty feature in China as well)Report

  12. Avatar Michael M. says:

    Two articles I really enjoyed this week:

    1. A brief historical overview of the American sideshow through the lens of FX’s American Horror Story: Freak Show, which also includes an interesting look at the ethical implications of people with disabilities playing the sideshow freaks. Choice quote from activist and actor Mat Fraser: “We’re not used to people with radically outsider bodies like myself in entertainment so arguments about the tone and the politics must come after some visibility. If we can’t even play ourselves in the history of our own showbiz lineage, then I think we’re in a pretty bad place.”

    2. A crazy, cautionary oral history of the making of ultra low-budget 1980s horror movie Spookies that involves (among other things) ex-porn stars, an ex-Green Beret, the tragic death of an infant, and the legacy of one of the U.S. founding fathers. If you’ve ever fantasized about making a movie, this could be a good way to disabuse yourself of that notion.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      You should see the soap opera some of Dr. Who turned into.
      Or the movie that got made because someone couldn’t stop trolling the director…Report

  13. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    E2: The US used to build gigawatt-scale pumped-hydro storage systems. The rest of the world continues to build pumped-hydro systems ranging from tens-of-megawatts to gigawatts in size — China has something over 12 GW currently under construction. There are plenty of sites in the US where such could still be built — placeholder permits for many have been issued (PDF), particularly in the West, but are not being pursued. Mostly that is due, IMO, to US public policy that leaves no room for truly large-scale storage operators. Generators are not interested in selling off-peak electricity to someone who can then compete with them during peak hours; ISOs are not interested in servicing large-scale storage that is far from the generators; and FERC’s storage interests are for small-scale (batteries, flywheels) to provide power to fine-tune matching supply to demand on a minute-by-minute or even second-by-second basis.Report

  14. Avatar Will Truman says:

    @pinky This is actually a response to your comment last week, which got lost in the shuffle.

    I think in the case of space travel, the Venusian plan still does qualify as “colonization” because you’re still tethered to the planet and getting your resources off of it. And in the Martian plan, you’re physically on the planet, even if you’re stuck behind a dome.

    I’ve actually been pondering colonization a lot in recent months* (which is why there has been an uptick in such articles on LF), and it’s actually less than binary. To colonize some of the planets and moons in the solar system, a lot of them would require makeshift arrangements. On most of them you would have to build the continents. In other cases, you’d put domes over craters. So floating in the atmosphere, particularly as you’re tethered to the planet itself, still seems different to me than being on a space ship or even a satellite.

    It would be easier to make room on Antarctica* (which I have also been looking at). One of the main reasons I would be in favor of colonizing, though, is so that humanity survives a cataclysmic event. Of course, the type of colonization I am most interested in involves terraforming. If ever we have the ability to do that, of course, we have less reason to need to leave because we can correct for problems here (fixing global warming, however expensive and hard, has to be easier than making Mars inhabitable). But that doesn’t solve the asteroid problem.

    * – I’m pondering a couple of stories which involve some alien refugees setting up shop on our solar system. Including on Earth, though more on Arctica (Canadian archipelago, Greenland, Svalbard, etc.) than Antarctica.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      Terraforming is the only possible method that, to my thinking, would constitute colonization. Just showing up doesn’t cut it. I mean, it would let us preserve a few members of our species, but we wouldn’t be living there.Report

  15. Avatar notme says:

    Hilary’s final lost it.

    Hillary: ‘Don’t Let Anybody Tell You’ That ‘Businesses Create Jobs’