Linky Friday: United Thermodynamics


goth photo

Image by kellyhogaboom Linky Friday: United Thermodynamics

[N1] Two words: Goth chicken.

[N2] Megafauna built tunnels. Now, of course, we have machines for that.

[N3] This will end badly.

[N4] Sorry deer, but birds have better PR.

[N5] Just a reminder that Mother Nature hates you. Especially if you fly United.

[N6] Most deepwater life glows (and for a reason).


[F1] The things you can do when places are walkable. Soon it may not matter, though.

[F2] Killjoy. More seriously, I get what they’re saying but everybody’s relationship with food is going to be different.

[F3] Carl Sr is back.

[F4] In case you’ve ever been curious about the nutritional content of people, we are not actually very nutritious.

[F5] The power of screen time: The Internet, ladies and gentlemen, can teach kids anything.

[F6] I’m not sure “damn good taco” should really be trademarkable, and even if it should the alternate spelling I think is significant.


Linky Friday: United Thermodynamics[O1] Fat stigma has many bad outcomes, including this. “But the only problem here is that the diets are unsuccessful!” Well, okay, but almost all diets are unsuccessful.

[O2] Have we tried stigma and shame? Surely that will work.

[O3] Australia decreased its sugar consumption… and got fatter.

[O4] Well, that’s one way for a nation to lose weight.


Alaska pipeline photo

Image by mmmavocado Linky Friday: United Thermodynamics

[E1] The US is working to try to prevent our nuclear plants from being purchased by Chinese.

[E2] Wind, solar, hydro, thermoelectric paint?

[E3] The Trans Alaska Pipeline system can handle extreme cold up to -60F, but cannot handle lethargy.

[E4] Have we reached an electricity plateau?


Linky Friday: United Thermodynamics[D1] If you’re going gray you’re going to die! Well, you’ll die either way, but you know what I mean.

[D2] Here are some facts about death.

[D3] Happy nightmares (though I’m pretty sure one or more of those is actually a superhero origin).

[D4] Now that’s a state slogan: You can die on Mars, or you can live in South Dakota.

[D5] 19th century homes were pretty dangerous.


United Airlines photo

Image by KurtClark Linky Friday: United Thermodynamics

[B1] Tim Wu takes aim at “attention theft” and calls for action.

[B2] I really don’t get this. Come up with a high-margin product, but then don’t manufacturer enough of it so there’s a lot of pent-up demand and retailers are padding their pockets due to the shortage, then get a supply line going, then discontinue it before everybody who wants one has one.

[B3] Sometimes it’s just a man, a dream, and unlimited access to Daddy’s capital.

[B4] Hayley Paterson on the collapse of retail, aided by banks looking askance at trying to save struggling retailers.

[B5] I, for one, will not rest until United Airlines’ reputation is so bad that they have to rebrand as Continental Airlines.

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Will Truman is a former para-IT professional who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He is also on Twitter. ...more →

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135 thoughts on “Linky Friday: United Thermodynamics

  1. B3: This article is two years old and I remember what it came out. The depressing thing about articles like this is that they are becoming more common and sometimes in surprising sources but they all seem to have a Cassandra quality because the myths of self-reliance, entrepreneurship, etc are too strong in the United States. You see these articles spread among media aimed at readership which is just a notch or two below the famed and alleged self-started on the socio-economic scale. The big guns in media still go for the self-start myth.

    Related to B4: Former OTer Bouie writes with anger about the tragedy of why politicians don’t respond to retail work the same way they respond to shuttered factories and mines:

    There’s one other answer to consider, one that speaks to deep divides in our society. Retail work in malls and shopping centers and department stores is largely work done by women. Of the nearly 6 million people who work in those fields in stores like Sears, Michaels, Target, J.C. Penney, and Payless, close to 60 percent are women. There’s another issue to consider. A substantial portion of these workers—roughly 40 percent across the different kinds of retail—are black, Latino, or Asian American…..Work is gendered and it is racialized. What work matters is often tied to who performs it. It is no accident that those professions dominated by white men tend to bring the most prestige, respect, and pay, while those dominated by women—and especially women of color—are often ignored, disdained, and undercompensated.

    A lot of retail is poorly paid and minimum wage with zero to few benefits but there are some exceptions. Selling expensive or high-end items at a commission can earn some people six-figure salaries or more. But the opportunities for women and people of color are low here. Most car and furniture retail workers are still male (and this is a form of retail). The exception here is jewelry and handbags seemingly.

    B5: Former OTer Hanley predicted that United would survive the Dao incident largely unscathed and I hate to say it, he might be right here. Customers of airlines seem to value cheapness and/or miles/status over being treated with decency and for most people, they are just doing to put up with a few hours of no comfort. This includes high-earners whose desire is for more travel opportunities over comfortable travel. I recently booked tickets to NYC for a weekend and my girlfriend is going to join me. She got mad at me because I booked a return flight on Delta instead of United. My girlfriend hates United, she thinks their flights are always uncomfortable even when she gets a good seat, their service sucks, and she hates what they did to Dao. But United is part of the Star Alliance and because my girlfriend is from Singapore this matters to her because when she flies United, she gets miles and status on all Star Alliance partners including Singapore Airlines. So she always tries to fly United in the United States. I like to fly Virgin because I find them comfortable. This is quaint seemingly.

    My girlfriend and her business oriented friends are more atuned to the miles and status and points thing. They all go for the Sapphire card from Chase because of the points and look at me as kind of sad for only having a Bank of America Visa and an AmEx. Also because I am not really good at all the miles accumulating things despite the fact I fly fairly frequently.


    • Retail is devalued because it’s largely seen as utterly unskilled (even dumb teenagers can do it!), and any skills one might acquire in the short term are all soft skills. Race & gender concerns are likely second order effects.


      • The problem is, when you hire unskilled people and pay them poorly, the quality of service totally tanks, and people who can shift to buying online.

        I’m not going to go through the whole annoying story of the last time I tried to buy a raincoat at the Bergner’s in the mall near my parents, but suffice it to say – I hope that damn coat lasts a long time because I don’t want to go through that rigamarole again soon.

        And Bergner’s is, or used to be, at least, regarded as an “upscale” store and the person not-serving me was in her 60s. (Though I did find out later on there was a labor dispute going on, but “hurting” the management by screwing over customers seems to lead to a pyrrhic victory at best)


      • There is a difference between “unskilled” and actually unskilled.

        A lot of the old factory work was unskilled labor but we still valued it because it paid a decent wage for a while.

        Women are expected to do a lot of “emotional labor” and even if the days of marrying the secretary are largely gone, most administrative assistants are still women and there is a degree of being a caring mom/wife to their job even if the boss now could be a woman too. When a lot of burly guys say that they can’t take a so-called woman’s job, it is largely because those jobs have aspects that involve caring and a bit of subservience.


        • Saul,
          Obviously you’ve never read Crack in Spanish Harlem. You’re really projecting when you say that these guys won’t take on a job that involves “caring and subservience.” Yes, that may be one aspect of it, but there appeared to be an equal aspect of “spending alone time after work with my female boss is inappropriate.”


        • A lot of the old factory work was unskilled labor but we still valued it because it paid a decent wage for a while.

          The presumption here seems to be that if “unskilled” labor doesn’t provide a decent wage then “we” shouldn’t value it. Which cuts two different ways: we shouldn’t value it because it doesn’t pay well, or shouldn’t value it because it’s not skilled labor.

          Those are two different conceptions of “value”, seems to me, one based on a basic economic calculus and one based on a snooty cultural calculus. Which one do you mean?


        • This is what I get for posting a short comment…

          My point was not to make the claim that retail work is unskilled, but that it’s subjective value is not a result of the gender or race of the majority of those workers, but rather the other way around – the fact that the work has become de-valued results in it being available for certain genders & races, because the higher value work will be heavily pursued by men.

          As for the skill levels of industrial work, that varies, but an industrial setting often has a wealth of opportunities to quickly pick up some pretty useful trade or technical skills. Retail often does not, or, perhaps, because retail tends toward high turnover, such opportunities are reserved for those who have shown staying power.


          • ,

            Your mistake was to make a historically accurate point that goes against other people’s political narratives. But you’re absolutely right.

            We know the history to this. Factory jobs paid well, so white men formed unions that were fairly successful at excluding women and non-whites. The government passed a bunch of laws and rules that helped unions keep non-members out of most of these high-paying factory jobs. Eventually, the unions started desegregating, but like housing segregation, the damage had already been done and the legacy persists.


      • Nobody should be able to say that retail is unskilled with a straight face. A lot of retail involves convincing people to buy something, dealing with unpleasant or annoying customers, guarding the store against shop lifters and other criminals, and other not necessarily easily skills. In high end retail, you need a lot of personal charm.


          • Good question. My point was similar to Saul’s though, a lot of manufacturing work was unskilled. This was especially true after Ford perfected the assembly line and your job meant you did the same repetitive task day in and day out. Manufacturing work, mining, and construction are a lot more respected than retail even though they are unskilled.

            For most of the 19th century and 20th century retail work was more respected because it was seen as middle class job. You needed pose and education to be a store clerk. It was seen as an acceptable job for middle and upper class young women that needed to earn a living for awhile before married women began to work.


            • My point was similar to Saul’s though, a lot of manufacturing work was unskilled.

              High-end manufacturing isn’t unskilled.

              We shouldn’t conflate “skilled” work with “work that it is not possible to do poorly”.

              I worked in a restaurant and that was *NOT* skilled work. But it was possible to be good at it and it was possible to be crappy at it. When you go out to eat to one of those places like Macaroni Grill or On The Border, you’ll notice that there is an entirely different team working on Friday night as Monday afternoon. The Friday shifts are in *HIGH* demand… high enough that management knows that they have to put their best people on it. The people who aren’t good at it won’t do a good job serving people during the craziest part of the week and people who get crappy service on a Friday night will go somewhere else next Friday… so the seasoned servers and bussers will be the ones who consistently get scheduled and they’re the ones who will want to be there because those nights are the best nights for tips.

              But that still doesn’t make it “skilled” labor.


              • Yes but high-end manufacturing is different than the old Henry Ford system which was really unskilled for many factory floor workers.

                But you do see a lot of nostalgia about a time when (real or not) “a guy could graduate high school, get a job on a factory floor, join a union, and then buy a car with his first paycheck.”

                18 and 19 year olds are still teenagers whether they are working on a factory floor or at Amoeba Records or American Eagle and they have the same amount of skills.

                I read people talk about their dads getting a factory job at 18 and largely doing the same thing for 40 to 50 years but still having a decent economic life. Why not retail?

                And there is still gender imbalances. How often do women sell cars? which is a field where sales leads to good money.

                Retail can mean good money if you sell high end items with a commission


                • Saul,
                  Yeah, 18 year olds have the same amount of skills.
                  Because, you, at age 18, were capable of blowing glass without mostly burning your fingers off.
                  Or capable of working professionally as a computer scientist, or as a copy editor.

                  Yeah, come off it man. If 18 yearolds in AMERICA don’t have skills it’s because they’ve been too lazy to learn them. I knew plenty of 18 year olds capable of working professionally in skilled fields (artists primarily no big surprise there).


            • I’d draw a distinction between types of skills. Some require formal training (with or without a credential) and some require less formal training. The latter tend to be called “unskilled,” though I prefer the term “lesser skilled.” But yes, they’re still skills.

              (This isn’t to pile on Oscar’s comment. I agree with it.)


        • Yeah, I couldn’t do retail – it takes a level of ability in letting human ugly behavior roll off you that I lack. (I have had friends who worked retail and based on their stories, I strive to be very polite to shopclerks and the like, because the job can really seriously suck)

          That said, I don’t like being ignored when I’m trying to pay for something, or being ignored when I’m asking if someone could please help me find something….


    • Comments like this confuse me. OK with whom?

      Like everything this is going to piss off the partisans on one side and get cheered by the partisans on the other. And the same thing will happen one day when a bunch of woke celebrities are Tweeting (or whatever the big social media platform will be during the next Democratic administration) pictures of themselves making fun of Trump’s portrait. The folks on the left will call it #resistance and the folks on the right will grab their pearls and call it disrespectful.

      Haven’t you seen this show before?


      • Well, comparatively few will “cheer” it but a lot will defend it. A lot of people are going to respond differently depending on who did it. That said! When Obama guests at the White House did something similar (took pictures of themselves flipping Reagan and GWB the bird or something like that) the White House condemned it. I don’t think Trump will.


        • That wasn’t a comment about how Obama is just like Trump, because he isn’t. It was a question about meaning What does it means to say that it’s OK or not OK when one side does something?


        • A public condemnation of that type of behavior followed by not inviting them back seems about the right response. The “not inviting them back” part is important. I don’t know whether the people in the Obama White House were allowed to return, but I’d be very disappointed if they were.


      • The First Amendment protects both freedom of speech and petitioning the government for redress of grievances. If people wish to exercise their rights… wait, Jack Johnson did this? I thought you said John Jackson did this!

        We, as a society, have a responsibility to maintain some semblance of dignity for institutions…


    • Saul:

      So what? Are you telling us the liberals are too polite and refined not to do anything like this? Besides they are just standing there. It’s not like they are giving her picture the finger or doing anything rude. Or is this a question of liberal sour grapes?


  2. N1: Not Goth Chicken, Darth Chicken. Que the Imperial March.

    N3: They should hatch the dinosaur-chicken embryos and sell them as pets to small children. You’ll make a mint because kids love dinosaurs.

    N4: The Sound of Music certainly hasn’t helped deer. The academic also probably works for the resurgent venison industry.

    N5: A most memorable honey moon, just not in a way that most newlyweds wants.

    F2: Calvinism in action. If you want to be really healthy, you would avoid indulgence as much as possible. Your diet wouldn’t be pleasurable but you will be healthy.

    F4: The late Chris Hitchens believes humans taste like pork. Apparently the smell of burning human flesh does smell like roast pork.

    F5: At least the parents are going to save hundreds on driving lessons eight years latter.

    O1-O4: Modern life is designed to lead to obesity. Humans evolved to pack in the calories because we spent most of our existence in a fast or feast scenario. Our evolutionary past tells us to go for the fat, salt, and sweet above all when we eat. A lifestyle where we drive everywhere and do not have much opportunity for exercise does not help.

    D1: Damn it. I started greying at seventeen.

    D3: The chances of any of these things happening are slim,

    D5: Then the heroic civil servants and legislatures of government used the power of law to make houses safer so modern humans of the 21st century can enjoy the attractive look of 19th century housing and modern convenience and safety.

    B1: I hate this type of captivity. Tim Wu is doing the Lord’s work here.

    B2: Business people do not always act rationally. Nintendo might have saw this as a novelty item rather than a mass market success and they are sticking to their original idea rather than meeting demand.

    B3: This is one reason why liberals are skeptical about gutting licensing and unleashing entrepreneurial energy as a way to increase wealth and decrease poverty. Most entrepreneurs come from affluent or wealthy backgrounds because parents and relatives are much more likely to give a young business person with a novel idea starting capital than a bank. If the entrepreneur fails, they could just go work as an ordinary affluent or wealthy person. I’d imagine Zuckerberg would have a much more difficult time starting Facebook if he was not the son of an upper-middle class dentist that went to Harvard. Bill Gates was the son of one of Seattle’s top lawyers and business women.

    B4: Once online shopping came into existence, people were not going to go back to the old way of shopping. This was especially true for lower and middle range retailers. People want cheap and convenient and online shopping is cheaper and convenient than real world shopping. Retailers who sell big ticket items like cars or appliances like ovens, fridges, and washing machines or the more expensive side of retail are probably going to do fine. Low to middle end retailers in dense cities might survive fine to because people need to pick some sundry items up at the bodega on occasion. In the suburbs, not so much.

    B4 is also why relying on mass entrepreneurialism is not going to increase wealth. Most young entrepreneurs will find that people will flock to established online and real life retailers rather than try something new, especially for low to mid range goods and services.


    • I really don’t see how B3 follows: additional barriers to entry into good professions will tend to help folks who already have advantages, and that includes ones who can fall back on their parents’ money.

      I don’t think scaling back or eliminating professional licensing is going to unleash some tsunami of growth and activity, but it will help at the margin, and a lot of the requirements are stupid and harmful on their merits.


      • Most of the talk about gutting licensing is not around the good professions like medicine, law, architecture, or engineering but in things like hair styling, dental hygienists, and other similar levels of work. The lower and mid-tier licensing is the one most likely to go. Matt Yglesias argument is that when you allow dental hygienists to set up shop on their own than they will and become independent business people rather than employees of dentists.


        • I dunno, I’d kinda like to be able to trust that my hygienist knows what s/he is doing. At my dentist, they do most of the work during the checkup/cleaning.

          A bad hygienist can ruin your day. (Ask me how I know)


        • This is true, but even some of the “good profession” licensing requirements should either be toned down or reformed. My wife and I probably would have moved one state over—to a place with a much more convenient location—if it weren’t for the fact that her license to be a mental health counselor wouldn’t transfer.

          As for the last, I think Yglesias is overstating the likely effect, but he’s not wrong about the overall effect. Unpaid internships and informal (occasionally even formal) requirements for college degrees from exclusive schools [1] are barriers that hinder class mobility. I’m not sure why stupid requirements would be any different.

          Not gonna change the world in a big way, but it may make it a little better.

          [1] I’ve seen actual job listings where they state outright, “You need to have a degree from an Ivy, MIT, U Chicago, or Stanford.” I’ve never seen one that specifies YHPS, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.


          • I think that the existence of unpaid internships as necessary first step and the informal and formal degree requirements from exclusive schools are evidence that gutting the licensing regulations is going not help that much. The former are entirely done at the behest of private industry and not the law. This shows that private industry is able to come up with burdensome regulations to limit class mobility without needing a law. Even if you get rid of the requirements forcing dental hygienists to work under dentists, the dentists and dental suppliers can refuse to sell them equipment.


            • The dentists have a strong motive to not sell them equipment, but the vendors who actually sell equipment will have a strong motive to sell all the equipment they have. There are some things markets are super-good at, and this is one of them.

              And yeah, there are a lot of sources of barriers to class mobility. It’s better to have fewer of them, all else being equal, and if we can get rid of some at low or no cost, let’s do so.


      • I mean yes disease and accidents tend to be agnostic. You can eat healthy and exercise and stuff happens and you still die. Eating right and exercise seem to save people from a lot of pain and suffering though based on what I’ve seen happen to people who don’t eat right and don’t exercise.


        • I eat healthfully and exercise MOST of the time. What I dislike are the orthorexia-inducing articles that essentially say you should NEVER eat cake, not even on your birthday, because it raises your risk of dying a bit early by 0.002%.

          I do the healthful stuff not so I’ll live forever, but so that I won’t wind up in serious health straits at a youngish age. (On one side of my family lifespan is close to 100, typically, on the other I don’t know because everyone before my dad’s generation were either smokers who died in their 70s of emphysema or similar, or they worked in really dangerous jobs and died of work-related illnesses)


    • B4? Dude, I don’t think you understand what entrepreneurs look like.
      Or really, what they do.
      You don’t really HAVE enough Americans with the balls to be slavers, and if they won’t do that then they can’t compete.


  3. b1: attention theft? really, brah? seriously, as we finish morphing into a culture of novelty junkies, the euphemism treadmill is going to become a euphemism uh much faster than a treadmill. blender?

    weirdly, the essay is asinine. or perhaps not so weirdly. perhaps this was some kinda attention theft under the guise of public service announcement-ing about attention theft? i’m trying to find an angle here that doesn’t make wu seem ridiculous, though freedom of serenity (what he’s calling thought) is, apparently, a constitutional right?

    also he lives in new york so yeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh.


  4. N4 – birds have better PR? Disney never made a movie about a baby bird that lost his mom, and Hitchcock never made a movie about crazy killer deer.


  5. [N4]: when I was a grad student, I was involved with a private conservation organization (they owned land in and around where I did my research). They had big problems with deer – they had had a tradition of “no hunting” and so apparently when hunting season opened up, all the deer in the area hightailed it into the preserves where they were safe.

    they ate all the acorns. I mean, literally, ALL the acorns – several years of study demonstrated there was zero oak reproduction happening, which is a sizable problem in oak-hickory forest.

    So the conservation group formulated plans to take applications for people to come in and hunt. We got a lot of pushback from locals….many of whom had moved to the “peaceful countryside” from the Chicago burbs. We heard every stereotype of the “drunken redneck hunter.” We heard people say, in all seriousness, “How can I be sure a hunter won’t shoot my kids while they’re waiting for the bus?” Etc., etc.

    Finally, it was put to a vote.

    The hunting measure passed, mainly because everyone who had been involved with maintenance/study of the site voted “yes, let hunters in to cull the deer.”

    Hunts have gone on periodically for ~20 years.,

    No one’s kid has been shot yet. Not even anyone’s cow.

    I don’t think birds necessarily have better PR than deer, at least not in the US. And I love animals but deer populations are way too high many places. I’d feel the same way if it was birds (In fact, Canada geese: there’s a species that could stand to be culled).

    People are often surprised that I’m an ecologist and I condone hunting, but since we’ve screwed with the environment in ways that favors some species AND we’ve taken out some of the likely predators – well, I don’t want a monoculture of deer any more than I want a monoculture of corn.


    • Goosinator is pretty cool.
      I used to canvas for the Sierra Club as a stupid summer job, but when I’d find hunters, I’d tell them to please hunt in the Allegheny National Forest, as the deer were completely killing it (which they really are)


    • I grew up in WI, I’ve got all the stupid hunter stories. They’re almost all “friend of a friend” stories, and all are great examples of what not to do, and many of them end with arrests, fines, and loss of hunting privileges/rights. The point is, 99% of hunters are very safe & responsible, & the 1% serve as a warning to others to continue to be so.

      The animus towards hunters is irksome.


      • i don’t hunt, but i want to be a free rider on the hunting of others because deer are stupid and evil. if only venison was good food. (it’s not don’t lie. you can make it good food but it takes so much longer than, say, chicken aka the best food ever made out of living things)


        • Yeah, I don’t hunt either. I’m not a big fan of venison but I will say summer sausage made of deer meat is pretty tasty.

          I have relatives who, for a few years, would not have had meat most winters if they didn’t bag a deer or two. (They also raised rabbits for a few years but rabbits are much work for the amount of meat)


      • Oscar,
        Yeah, but in Wisconsin, they actually Manage the Deer.
        In Pa, I have all the stupid “non-hunter” stories of “we ran into a deer, again.”

        I chase the deer around my property (in the City of Pittsburgh, 2 miles from downtown) so they don’t completely habituate. (I can’t hunt the deer, or really hurt them, because my neighbors are softies)


      • Part of the “lottery” process the reserve was going to use, too, was a background check to make sure the person had no “stupid hunter stories” (at least ones leading to police being summoned) in their past. The vast majority of hunters I’ve known have been very careful, down to planning their shots so the deer dies instantly – they are concerned with being humane.


          • “Food” as in using the deer as food in a SHTF situation, or “food” as in “deer are causing a lot of crop depredation and we are losing those crops”

            Have you a link to the Darpa Fudd-Bots?


              • Okay, that makes more sense than the “roving bots to harvest deer for the huddled remnants of society to feed on.”

                I don’t know enough FARMER farmers to know what kind of damage they complain about to their crops; most of the farmers I know are ranchers who worry about coyotes or even fire ants attacking the calves.

                And, OMG, the Goosinator is a thing of beauty. ***I*** want one, and I don’t even have a problem with geese. (I wonder how it would work on the neighbors’ perpetually whining dog)


                • filly,
                  Military tends not to plan on situations where military will stop existing (or, more relevantly, being paid and having access to oil to power their trucks).

                  Deer are like plagues, you can put up fences, but they need to be like 14 feet high. And half the time the deer will try to jump anyway.

                  I used to live in corn country. Now, there’s agriculture out here, but it’s hardscrabble (more apples than corn).


                  • Oh yeah, I know about deer and fences. Was involved on a research project looking at deer effects on prairie plants. We had deer exclosures built – 12′ high fences.

                    The PI on the project FORGOT to tell the fence building dudes that we needed a gate or a door – so during the project, every time we had to sample inside the exclosures, we had to climb up one side of the fence and down the other to get in, and reverse the action to get out.

                    I will say my PI was a good dude- he did his fair share of scrambling into the exclosures and didn’t just send the grad students in.

                    (This was in Illinois, where the deer were many and fat)


                    • filly,
                      Heh. At least your research didn’t involve state mandated “scrubbing of research data” so that no one can prove that mountain lions exist in the state.
                      (Seriously, PA. People do literally present them with pictures, and the game wardens promptly dismiss them for any pretext whatsoever, even if they need to flat out lie).

                      And twelve foot’s for flat land. We have hills around here, and deer know where to jump.


                    • I long for the return of the American bison. Bison-proof fence means 6×6-inch wooden posts and four-inch steel pipe for rails, the top rail six feet high. Grown bison can push through anything less substantial than that if they are determined, and fairly casually jump over a rail that’s only four feet high. A small ranch that raised bison outside my suburb went with a top rail eight feet high because of hillsides.

                      The public herds near Denver — the City of Denver’s herd in the foothills west of town and the federal herd at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal wildlife site eight miles NE of downtown — use lighter fences with the goal, according to a ranger, of “encouraging but not insisting” the bison stay within limits.


    • Yeah it’s like seals in my old territory of Nova Scotia. They’re a bloody plague, they eat everything that swims and since we humans killed off so many of the sharks, polar bears and killer whales the seals are virtually unpredated. But their pups have big dark liquid eyes so enviro-imbeciles will throw themselves across burning lava to protect the cute animals against any population control.


  6. {o3} So cutting back on fat made Americans fat, and cutting back on sugar made Australians fatter. Surely the culprit here is protein! We need to restrict everyone’s protein intake and that will save everyone from being fat! Wait….what? (I’m guessing restrictive diets and inactivity are the real problem here)

    {d3} (Singing) “Dumb ways to die….so many dumb ways to die….” Sounds like it’s time for another verse to that song….


  7. E4: Actually not surprising. We’ve been pushing for reduced energy usage for decades, it was bound to start leveling off at some point.


    • notme,
      Do I REALLY need to tell you about the chemical weapons we have buried under Washington DC?
      The ones we’re afraid to touch, because they’ve been there since WWI?

      [NOBODY thought Obama got them all, including Obama, for god’s sake. Israel has a vested interest in keeping tabs on chemical weapons on their borders. Of course, they also have a vested interest in exaggerating, but I think we can count on the CIA’s intel to keep the Mossad in check on that front. Don’t lie when it’s easy to catch you out.]


  8. The argument for the ending of the NES Classic comes down to three basic points.

    1.) There are only so many places Nintendo can have manufacturing stuff for them and it’s more important to get Switches out than more NES Classics.

    2.) This was always planned to be a quick cash grab for the holidays, since again, they have their virtual console system that allows them to charge $5 per NES game.

    3.) As reported recently by various game sites, they have a Super NES Classic coming out the holiday of this year.


    • Speaking of seals, can someone check the apocalypse scrolls? notme and LGM having the same editorial line on an event might have opened one or two of them.


  9. 1. O1 – I have problems with this. It’s not that he’s wrong to imply that the kind of research won’t happen, but I can write a better post without all the woo and ducking of inconvenient evidence.

    2. F2 – I see a lot of this kind of stuff written by so-called “ex-dieters” or “recovered dieters”. It feels to me like it’s geared towards people that are trying to deal with eating disorders or food issues that I can’t even begin to relate to.

    3. O3 – I never waste my time reading what journalists have to say about weight loss, studies, etc. Like most of society, they’re clueless.


    • Dave,
      Profit motive exists in a lot more places than you’d expect, and there is a very vested interest in keeping Americans fat, as a purely practical matter for the Powers that Be (surely it’s easy to see that people without enough discipline to resist urges are going to be easier to control?).
      So, I disagree — society knows a lot more about how this all works than you’d think.


  10. F3: I rather like the Carl Sr. character and the message of the advertisement: it’s good branding.

    That this PR moves comes after the actual CEO of the actual company had the actual political journey he did strikes me as no coincidence.


  11. b4,
    FREE MONEY CRISIS. Many stores kept on being able to afford money to keep tottering along.
    This is creative destruction, people — when they can’t pay their loans, they go bankrupt.
    If you want to yell at someone, yell at Yellen.


  12. N5: I assume that this is because of United’s policy of breaking out the “no scorpions falling on you” fee into a separate optional line item instead of rolling it into the base fare price like classier airlines do.


    • The polling numbers for legalization (or, at least, not treating it as only slightly less awful than heroin) keep getting stronger and stronger and the sky keeps not falling in Colorado, Oregon, Warshington, Alaska, and so on.

      Is there too much money in it for the police or something?

      Good lord, just look at the tax revenues that Colorado is getting!


          • Well of course, my desk chair has been telling me that for years. And the pattern of clouds says that Jones really knows the deeper truth that he will be spilling once that wicked bowl of chili wears off.


          • Here in Colorado the word is that pot is indeed getting stronger and more consistent — selective breeding and proper curing matter. Also that international smuggling is running both ways now — the cartels buy high-quality dope in Colorado and smuggle it to Mexico for their high-end clients there.


            • Here in Canada, I hope that our every so slowly impending legalization means you’ll be able to get low quality dirt weed again.

              The stuff you can get now is all THC, no CBD. A couple of puffs is already too much for me. I don’t even smoke it anymore – I make a tincture, partly so I can take a small enough amount to still be functional.

              I had the opportunity to try an extract that claimed to be half and half THC / CBD, and did find it subjectively more pleasant – I felt less jittery, calmer.


        • @jaybird

          My understanding of the polling is that Republicans over 50 are overwhelmingly against legalization and everyone else is for including GOPers under 50.

          Guess what group has a huge amount of power in the US?

          Plus there is the never solveable debate about whether people are social creatures before they are economic creatures and vice-versa.


      • A minority that really hates something is, generally, more powerful than a majority that’s just okay with it.

        By and large the people for pot legalization are of the “Yeah, why not? It’s not any worse than booze. Probably better” variety, which means they support it — but not like, you know, enough to show up with signs and at town halls and especially primaries on that issue.

        A lot of the ones who are against legalization are Sessions-like. They flat-out believe it’s worse than heroin, or a massive gateway drug, etc and that legalization will lead to crime, anarchy, and chaos. A lot of them will show up to yell at town halls, vote on that issue during primaries, etc.

        So, long story short: Too many headaches for too little reward. Good climate for referendums, though. As long as they’re not on an off-year.


          • Interesting comment Will. I agree that Dems have been on the wrong side of the crime debate as a political issue, but they’ve been on the right side of the “will increased punition solve our crime problems?” debate. We live in a punitive culture, one in which we successfully justify to ourselves incarcerating people for, well, anything which offends our (collective!) sensibilities. If correct, saying that Dems are reluctant to advocate for legalization on these specific grounds constitutes evidence that what dominant American culture values more than anything else is seeing other people, non-dominant people, punished. The “reason” seems incidental just so long as it exists. Which is a fucked up political calculus.


        • I think you are generally right on the passionate minority but Will is right in this immediate election. There are still a lot of Democratic politicians who overlearned the issues of Just Say No in the 1980s and/or overlearned the lessons of the Republican Revolution in 1994 and Bush II’s 2002 and 2004 wins.

          Though there are a lot of studies that show both Democratic and Republican congresscritters overestimate the conservatism of their constituents.


          • I had a rather interesting conversation with my mother who, until about 2006ish, was a lifelong Republican.

            She referred to a number of the GOP (and especially Trump’s) priorities, goals, and statements as “Out of touch old farts who haven’t kept up with the times”. It’s worth noting my mother is retired — and she didn’t retire early.

            I found that pretty amusing.


          • Part of this is more contact with donors, and more focus on their interests. Republican donors tend to be further to the right of the median Republican, and Democratic donors also tend to be further to the right of the median Democrat.

            This crops up in a lot of areas, including support for military interventions. I wouldn’t be surprised if it cropped up with weed, too.


            • I suspect you are partially correct but older voters are more frequent voters and they dominate elections. One of the big problems for the Democratic Party is getting younger people to turn out on a regular basis for elections.

              You are probably right that the Democratic big donors care more about their pet issues than things that would excite an animate the Democratic base. Tom Steyer cares about the environment and that is great, not so much for economic progressive things like worker’s rights and protections.


              • True, and the more active older voters are going to confound a lot of things, since they’re more likely to be donors, both because they’re more active and they, on average, have more money.

                Also, rich people tend to be less enthusiastic about rich people paying a lot more taxes, relative to not-so-rich people.


              • Schrager and Witwer’s The Blueprint: How the Democrats Won Colorado (and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care) goes right to the heart of your second paragraph. Four donors who decided that a Democratic majority needed to come first, and lobbying that majority on individual issues second. The prototype for Obama’s big data operation — eg, people on environmental groups’ mailing lists got calls talking about the environment. Targeting individual Republican members of the General Assembly — if you need to flip six seats, focus on the weakest opposition.

                Still, I fully expect that the national party will cheerfully ignore the fact that the West is the only region in the country where the (D)s came out of this past November with any sort of momentum.


  13. B2: I have a sneaking suspicion that Nintendo is a poorly-run business that manages to survive based on a fantastic product design talent pool, owing perhaps to Japan’s tradition of lifelong employment. With the caveat that I don’t actually know what I’m talking about.

    B3 is a big, steaming pile of narrative. I remember putting on latex gloves and digging into this back when it was first delivered onto the Internet’s front porch in a flaming paper bag, and it was misrepresenting several of the studies it cited. Furthermore, the author’s strategy seems to be to collect a bunch of studies that are kind of vaguely consistent with her thesis if you don’t look too closely and then assert that they prove the thesis. Which is kind of a pattern I’ve been noticing over at Quartz.

    For example, take a look at the study linked by the words “access to financial capital.” While this does show that people who had received large gifts or inheritances were 2-3 times as likely to be self-employed as those who did not, it also finds that at age 23, 84% of self-employed workers had not received any gifts or inheritance exceeding 500 pounds, and at age 33, 75% had not. This hardly supports—and indeed refutes—the claim that the only difference between entrepreneurs and the rest of us is that the former got money handed to them.

    The words “allows them to take risks” actually link to an abstract for a paywalled study that seems to be about entrepreneurs’ motivations for taking risks, not why they’re able to do so. She then links to an Atlantic article that claims that entrepreneurs are more risk-tolerant.and—whoops—“importantly, performed better than average on learning aptitude tests.” That’s a bit off-message, but it’s not like anybody’s going to read all the links anyway.

    It says the average cost to launch a startup is about $30,000, which is a totally reasonable amount of money for a skilled worker to accumulate from his or her salary. (Note: “Data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor show that more than 80% of funding for new businesses comes from personal savings and friends and family.” I actually wasn’t able to find that information in the several-hundred-page document she linked to, so I don’t know how that breaks down, but it’s global data, so it’s not clear how applicable it is to the US or other developed countries). The idea that anybody who has that much must have had it handed to them is ridiculous. And as someone who has quite a bit more than that—100% of which I’ve saved from paychecks from jobs which I got by sending out cold resumes—I can personally attest that money in the bank is not all it takes to start a successful business, as evidenced by the fact that I haven’t. It really does take a special kind of person, a lot of know-how, and a lot of hard work.


    • In my experience, the cost of launching a startup is less the actual cash required and more the amount of time you spend on zero or low income while your revenue starts to build. You don’t need to come from a rich family, but having a spouse with a job certainly helps.


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