Linky Friday #120: Rebels & Empires

Politics:

obama smoking photo

Image by wellohorld

[Po1] Though maybe it wasn’t actually a cigarette in Obama’s hand, I agree with Philip Bump that we shouldn’t really care if it was.

[Po2] John Kasich has apparently decided to go Full Huntsman, breaking several of Dan McLaughlin’s rules (3,50,52, and 65) and removing himself from my list of credible candidates.

[Po3] Amber Frost reports back (sort of) from the Commie Con, a gathering of leftists known as the Left Forum.

[Po4] Erica Grieder expresses sympathy for the social conservatives in Texas, who had a disappointing legislative session.

[Po5] The networks made fools of themselves ignoring Ron Paul in 2012. Is Fox continuing the tradition in 2016 with Rand? I find their explanation less than satisfactory.

[Po6] The Republicans should use this data to keep Donald Trump out of the debates.

Progress:

Fate_of_the_Rebel_Flag[Pr1] I was really surprised to discover that there was a lyme vaccination for our dog, since I knew that there wasn’t for people. Turns out that there is and we just can’t get it either because of anti-vaxxers or market failure.

[Pr2] Among the more surprising about-faces on the Confederate Flag: The Southern Avenger.

[Pr3] I don’t really buy Cyanogen’s alleged plan to steal Android from Google. I just don’t see how they get passed the referenced 800-pound entity. Judging by the closing, it seems like Cyanogen may feel the same way. Which is unfortunate, in a way, because some of the forced tying-in is beginning to grate. (I wouldn’t mind Google wanting me to use their products if their products were actually better or as-good as the alternatives.)

Our_Heaven_Born_Banner[P4] A couple years ago, Sweden instituted a program to text people who knew CPR when there is someone around who needs it, and now they’re texting blood donors when their donated blood is used.

[Pr5] Solar-powered airplane? Cool.

[Pr6] Will virtual reality help college football players practice more safely?

Commerce:

austin photo

Image by adactio

[Co1] From Christopher Carr: A friend of mine is doing this staging thing right now. It seems pretty interesting.

[Co2] Amazon is changing how ebook authors are paid under Kindle Unlimited, from “must have read 10%” to looking at page count. Friend of Trumwill Abel Keogh passes along this defense of the plan. I’m wondering – and kinda hoping – that writers try to game the system by adding art to beef up their page count. More books should contain art.

[Co3] Has Silicon Valley been displaced by Austin?

[Co4] Saudi Arabia is claiming success in killing US shale drilling, but production in the US is rising as the drilling costs are falling. My man in Texas says that Saudi Arabia is having some short-term success, but it’s likely to be a Pyrrhic victory as technology advances.

[Co5] How activists investors are improving our lives, Olive Garden edition.

Culture:

dinosaurs photo

Image by InfoMofo

[Cu1] One of the result of family-friendly policies is that women end up being paid less. Whenever Clancy interviewed for a job, I was always concerned that they would see her as a woman of reproductive age – with not a lot of time to spare – who would need some time off in the near future.

[Cu2] Jonathan V Last argues the greatness of Jurassic Park. I watched it again earlier this year, and was really impressed by the movie’s pacing.

[Cu3] That fathers on television are portrayed as bumbling idiots is not new to a lot of people, but the thing about working class fathers being portrayed more generously than middle class ones is interesting.

[Cu4] Teachers – of all races – are more likely to give out harsh punishments to black students.

[Cu5] How Superman kicked the KKK’s butt.

[Cu6] In the past’s future, we were supposed to be able to choose our skin color.

History:

[H1] From Oscar Gordon: Putting WWII in perspective.

[H2] Maybe the answer to the question of how New France survives in one of my alternate timelines is “Napoleon moves there.”

[H3] Harry Mount says the Greeks invented the courtroom drama.

[H4] Stanford Classics Professor Josiah Ober makes a case that, contrary to long-held belief, ancient Greece had substantial economic growth.

[H5] Colin Storer takes issue with the notion that the Weimar Republic was a failed state.

[H6] Camestros Felapton explains that no, the Nazis were not leftists.

World:

[W1] Marshall Islands, where the US tested our nuclear weapons, is suing the nuclear-superpower world.

[W2] Some Tories are complaining that Cameron is rigging the EU referendum.

[W3] I don’t think the use of the Confederate Flag in southern Italy and Donetsk changes the context here in the US, but it is interesting.

[W4] Vladamir Putin’s relationship with Texas secessionists is interesting.

[W5] Lelia Shevtsova looks at Russia’s alleged Weimar Syndrome, mentioned last year by Roger Cohen.

Video:

[V1] This is a pretty fascinating discussion between Tim Noah and Wharton Professor Peter Capelli on the current job market, the (alleged) skills gap, H1B visas, on-the-job training (and lack thereof), and whether college pays off.

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71 thoughts on “Linky Friday #120: Rebels & Empires

  1. Co3: No. Austin is #1 at rate of new entrepreneurs (which is based on percentage of population), not in startup activity. In every other metric, Austin is way below Silicon Valley. If you look at VC investment, Austin is outside the top 10 MSAs.

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  2. Po2: I am not quite sure I understand how Kaisch is violating the rules but I am not a Republican. There seem to be a lot more of these rules for Republicans than Democrats though.

    Po3: Didn’t you get this off me from facebook? Having worked with a left-wing (as in well beyond Democratic Party), I can say that the description is pretty accurate. There is also the classic story at the Anarchists’ Convention. Here is the story read by Jerry Stiller:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xvsvKQ9XV0

    P4: I find the blood text thing to be creepy even if I get the point of encouraging donations.

    Co2: I worry that this is going to distort the market away from having author’s try for ambitious and difficult books. Instead we will just see more easy to read and audience pleasing. Maybe the best authors will hire market researchers to tell them what to write. This is artistic merit as decided by marketing majors and I don’t like it.

    Co3: What Mo said.

    Co5: Italian does not strike me as a cuisine that needs to be given the chain treatment. A good and basic Italian restaurant should be easy to create anywhere.

    Cu3: TV Dads might be portrayed as bumbling but as a consolation prize, they always seem to have hot wives while being overweight shlubs. This also defies reality.

    H6: I largely associate this with Internet trolling by right-wingers. Everyone knows the Nazis were bad so the right-wing want to discard them as being associated. There are lots of people who proudly call themselves right-wing or even right-wing extremists. Yet these people obviously don’t want to be associated with Nazis or Nazism.

    V1: There is no video.

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    • [Po2] The main rules Kasich breaks are relatively simple: If you’re running for the GOP nomination, you cannot run against the GOP. You can run on a variation of the current GOP (“Compassionate Conservatism!” “Reform Conservatism!”), but the primary thesis of your campaign cannot be that Republicans are terrible. Huntsman and Kasich both have a record that would have allowed them to say “I’m one of you, but we need to change some things” but that wasn’t how they positioned themselves.

      It’s the equivalent of Zell Miller running for the nomination. Or, for that matter, Joe Lieberman’s problem. Lieberman was to the left of center, but in the last stage of his career, he accentuated his opposition to his own party. In the end, whatever their actual views, both Miller and Lieberman were angrier at their own parties than the opposing parties.

      Video should be up now.

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    • Po3 – Not sure if I got it from you. Probably?

      Co2 – It’s possible, but changing writing styles can be pretty difficult.

      Co5 – I actually think Olive Garden does a pretty good job. It’s fast food that Italian isn’t made for. I would eat at Fizzoli’s sometimes, but it’s Italian in the same way that Taco Bell is Mexican.

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    • Cu3: TV Dads might be portrayed as bumbling but as a consolation prize, they always seem to have hot wives while being overweight shlubs. This also defies reality.

      Well, the frequency certainly does, but couples like that exist. Of course, the gender reversed version also exists, but we seldom see it portrayed.

      On that point, people perhaps forget that Hairspray was a pretty revolutionary idea when it came out, a fat girl landing a pretty boy. Since then, the plot element has hardly caught on.

      Myself, I like attractive women, and thus I prefer to see attractive women on screen. I can imagine having them. I can imagine being them — which I suppose the former will be familiar to most straight guys, while the latter not so much. But regarding the shlubby sitcom men, I wouldn’t date those goofballs. Yeesh.

      In any case, you can tell TV is written mostly by men. Men in the audience can relate to the shlub while they desire the wife. Women in the audience can aspire to be like the woman, while laughing at the hapless man. It’s probably less than ideal, but people seem to like it.

      Honestly, I truly do not like it. I would love to see a gender-based/class-based survey on this. I wonder if this is what television writers think women will like more than what women actually like. Presumably the networks do research. But still. Man-goggles.

      (And yes, you can find women who write this stuff also. However, keep in mind these are women who have become successful in the present industry, and thus they are woman who have satisfied their male bosses, worked well with their male coworkers, and so on. We do not know what an all-woman team would write, with female bosses and a female-normative industry.

      Perhaps the Lifetime television thing. Which, shudder. I hope we can do better than that.)

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  3. From Hanley:

    http://reason.com/blog/2015/06/24/piketty-is-wrong-rich-families-dont-gene

    Reason tries to show that Piketty is wrong and that the old saying of “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” is more correct.

    I agree and disagree. Largely disagree. It is true that subsequent generations of mega-tycoons might lack the business acumen but this does not mean that they are going to slink back into the upper-middle class or lower on the socio-economic scale. Wealthy families are very good at maintaining trusts and other institutions to manage money and keep it alive for generations and have this money grow via investments and dividends.

    As I have mentioned before when you are in the arts, you meet a lot of people who can afford to be “independently employed in the arts.” These people live lifestyles well-above their incomes and the family has been able to do this through generations because of money management and investment. Often times, the family fortune was founded well before the 20th century. These are not billionaires but there is a family trust that is nothing to sneeze at combined with modern America’s tendency to have fewer children and therefore the pot is shared by a small number of people. These are families who might have invested in I.B.M or Apple during their early days. They also have 19th century stock ownership of old school companies.

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  4. [P4] Damn Socialists!

    [W3] I think I mentioned this on Twitter, but my cousin in Rome used the Confederate flag for his Facebook profile photo for over a year, until some Tennessee family convinced him to take it down. He’s a huge American Civil War buff, and apparently not unique among Italians in that regard. When he comes to the states to visit, my parents take him around to battle sites all over Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia, and he eats it up. For some reason, he identifies with the Confederates over the Federals.

    Italy did actually have some connection to the war. Garibaldi offered his services (he wanted to command all Union forces, and wanted the slaves freed immediately), and Lincoln sincerely offered him the rank of Major General and the command of an army.

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  5. Po3: Heterodox politics of the right or the left seems to attract a lot of socially maladapted people. Somebody should do a study on this. Maybe socially maladapted people are attracted to heterodox politics because they are trying to create a world where people like them could possibly thrive better.

    P4: Unlike Saul, I consider this to be a good thing and a wonder of social democracy. By telling people when their blood is being used, you turn an abstract good deed into a non-abstract good idea and provide a bit of emotional satisfaction hopefully.

    H2: Napoleon moving to French Louisiana would not have saved it. The only thing that could have saved New France is if the French managed to get more colonists over during the 17th and 18th century. Most alternative histories on the matter favor a timeline where Louis XIV allows the Huguenots to emigrate to New France. I do not for several reasons. First, I do not thing that the Huguenots would have been loyal to France if they were allowed to immigrate. They would probably identify more with the their fellow Calvinists to the South than with other French people. Second, another Protestant albeit French speaking country in the New World makes for a boring alternative history. Canada dominated by traditionalist French Catholic peasants is a more colorful alternative history, especially if you get a Brazil like situation where the royal family decides to move temporarily to the New World.

    To save New France, you need higher levels of French colonists moving to the New World. 350,000 English people settled the Americas during the 17th century even though England’s population was only around five million. There were around twenty million French people at the time but French immigration to the New France numbered in the thousands. By the time of the French-Indian War, there were sixty thousand people in New France and one million British subjects in British America. If you can increase the number of French people to six hundred thousand than you can save New France.

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    • H2, in the alternate timeline it’s a given that New France has a significant number of BNA evacuees. So the numerical discrepancy is not quite so dire. But they’re still at a disadvantage, so Napoleon (among other things) would be necessary. (I have to confess, I like the notion of Napoleon vs Hamilton as dueling chief executives. (No pun intended.)

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  6. H5:Weimar did much better than expected considering the circumstances and pressures it was facing. The real big problem with Weimar’s political system was the judiciary. The judges were to a man really reactionary and anti-Weimar.* It would be like if all the judges in the early United States were Loyalists during the Revolution. Its the main reason why Hitler and other Nazis got such light sentences for trying to overthrow the government of Bavaria and start a nationwide coup. There was also some problems with the design of the election system for the Reichstag and the amount of power given to the Reichsprezident, who historians refer to as an ersatz-Kaiser, but the Weimar system generally worked.

    *Italy had a similar problem after the Second World War. Many of the judges were active fascist sympathizers and much more conservative than the rest of the population. This was especially true in the South.

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  7. Cu3: I’m not really sure where the bumbling dad thing comes from. It seems like an over corrective to the father knows best era of television.

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    • — I suspect you are correct. Which, it isn’t women creating this stuff. It’s men. So why? Do they want to see themselves this way?

      And maybe to some degree they do. There is a sense of reliability, of seeing a “guy like me” that might be at work.

      For example, remember that cringe-inducing movie Sidewise. Like, OMG holy author insertion batman. Watch as the pretentious, hyper-cerebral nerd-guy gets the pretty Asian woman. Yeesh.

      Male critics loved that stinker. No surprise there.

      Anyway, but still, the hapless schlub character, he is relatable. But he is also, well, rather pathetic.

      So I think you are half right. I think it is part reliability and part throwing a bone to women (and I’m not sure if it is one we really want). Anyway, it is worth criticizing this phenomena.

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      • I think it’s a case of archetypes (or tropes) taking on a life of their own. An initial uncertainty about how to deal with newer family dynamics lead to a certain portrayal. Then once that portrayal became familiar, it became easy as it played on itself. And sitcom writers really like “easy.”

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      • I suspect that a lot of it isn’t so much as guys like me so much as writers trying to guess what the audience wants combined with a little revenge against overbearing dads from writers. We should imagine the bumbling dad as being seen through the eyes of children rather than adults.

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      • veronica d: For example, remember that cringe-inducing movie Sidewise. Like, OMG holy author insertion batman. Watch as the pretentious, hyper-cerebral nerd-guy gets the pretty Asian woman. Yeesh.

        The guy that directed Sideways was married to Sandra Oh at the time the film was produced. He also wrote the screenplay, so it was author insertion in some sense, but it wasn’t a Mary Sue.

        edit: and iirc, there was some glass ceiling talk about Sandra Oh herself at the time, i.e. not able to get leading lady jobs being she was Asian.

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      • Watch as the pretentious, hyper-cerebral nerd-guy gets the pretty Asian woman.

        It’s his slimeball friend who gets the pretty Asian woman, until she finds out she’s his pre-wedding last fling. The commish’s son gets a different pretty woman, because she sees through his self-destructive self-loathing to see … God knows what.

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      • In Sideways, the douchy actor had a fling with Sandra Oh’s character (who was married to the director at the time). The nerdy guy had a romance with a white woman.

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    • Surprise! Long running sham “investigation”( is it the 14th, 15th bengazi!!!!! Committee?) Finds itself unhappy because their broad net has not captured every single email hillz sent or recieved because surely this shall be the time we catch those dastardly Clinton’s in the act!!! Trey should just be honest this is the audition panel to decide who really get to go President hillz in 2017.

      Bengazigate!!!!! Is a nothingburger scandel, because the wing just cant accept that something went wrong and its not B. Barry Bamz fault.

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  8. P4: A variety of research groups working on growing red blood cells outside the body are getting closer to the human trial stage.

    That still leaves all the other blood components. Last time I donated whole blood I asked about being a platelet donor. They turned me down because none of my veins are straight enough to tolerate the pressures generated by the machines used.

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  9. [Pr3] – seems totally reasonable, really.

    There are plenty of Android versions out there, that’s the point of an open source OS. I used Cyanogenmod on my last phone, and MIUI on my current one (it’s a Xiaomi phone, so that’s the default OS it came with).

    The big thing to replace is the app store, I think. Since competing markets already exist, you likely don’t have to build your own. A lot of your users will probably go ahead and install the Google bundle because they use Gmail etc. – you don’t have to prevent them doing that, but just present a functioning OS to those who choose not to (Apple or Yahoo or Microsoft or whatever email users).

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  10. [Pr6] Eventually, all sports will be played by operators controlling robots through virtual reality; basically, imagine “Real Steel” only for everything. The biggest sports star in the world will be some Thai kid with glasses thick enough to warp space-time.

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  11. H1 – Awesome visualization. I could easily watch another hour expanded with more detail as well as similar presentations on other subjects. I wish history in school had been presented, or at least augmented, in such a fashion instead of the dry and boring classes I had.

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    • As a practical matter, I’m not sure what can particularly be done about it. Certainly on a policy level. Culturally it’s more tricky, and the only potential solution I see is for men to take time off in equal measure. Which is a pretty heavy lift.

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      • Companies would have to allow men that option. They currently don’t. Largely because the law doesn’t require it. So that is one policy remedy.

        I recognize the issue is largely cultural. I just bristled at the notion that lower pay was an inevitable consequence of companies becoming more “family friendly”… which feels like a strange way of saying “non-punitive to working moms”… though, obviously, most ARE still punitive to working moms.

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        • Someone may correct me, but my understanding is that men are legally entitled to the same arrangements given to women. Which is to say unpaid leave up to 12 weeks with the inclusion of a new child.

          The trick is getting men to take it (and/or preventing informal penalization of men for taking it when they do). That’s something people are trying to figure out the world over. In other countries that mandate flexibility in the areas of part time work and so on, there are issues with women being more inclined to take advantage of these things than men.

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          • You are correct that men have the same rights under FMLA. I was unaware of that. A policy issue still exists with regards to disability pay, something women are eligible for part of that time (provided they birthed the child) but which men are not.

            A quasi-policy, quasi-cultural issue exists with regards to company that structure that time off differently for men versus women. If a company offers paid maternity leave but not paid paternity leave, that is a reflection of a cultural issue though one which is allowed by a lack of policy demanding equality for men and women in that particular regard.

            This is from my (now prior) school’s handbook:
            “Up to 30 accumulated sick days may be used for paid family leave for the
            primary caregiver in a family. Additional accumulated sick days may be used if there is an approved medical condition. The School will grant unpaid family leave if the employee has fewer than 30 accumulated sick days so that the combination of sick days and unpaid family leave equal twelve weeks of leave. For employees giving birth to a child, short-term disability insurance will cover the employee for the disability period approved. The employee must reimburse the School for any insurance payments received for days covered by the School’s sick day policy. Short term disability insurance may extend further if there are medical complications related to the pregnancy. The Business Office will make sure employees are advised of their rights under the Family Leave Act.
            The School will guarantee an equivalent job for employees who return to work at the end of the statutory family leave, and for the next academic year, for an employee who begins maternity or family leave six weeks or less before the end of the previous academic year. The School will make its best efforts to offer an equivalent job to employees who take a family leave greater than provided for by statute, but will not guarantee that a job will be available or offered. Non-primary caregiver parents are entitled to one week paid leave and may request more through special permission from the Head of School by using sick days and/or vacation days.

            The bolded section reflects a recent update. I’m now curious how they define “primary” and “non-primary” caregiver. Given that the FMLA makes no distinction, it makes me wonder if this policy is in violation of the law. I had more than 30 accrued sick days (we get 10 per year and most teachers use less than half of that). So I theoretically could have taken six weeks paid leave without penalty if I declared myself the primary caregiver (and another six weeks unpaid).

            Reading this in its entirety, it is actually a pretty shitty policy. The limit of 30 paid days means even teachers with more accrued days (and, again, many far exceed that number) would still be unpaid for half their leave time if they take the full 12 weeks they are entitled to. That’s really shitty, actually.

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  12. C04 The saudi’s are idiots if they’re actually thinking this. You can’t “kill US Shale” by temporarily depressing the price for fish’s sake. The shale oil will just sit there and when you inevitably let the prices rise then out comes the shale oil. It’s not like people with fishing forget how to extract it and frankly by forcing the shale industry to squeeze every drop of efficiency out of their process that they can the Saudi’s are making it an even more effective opponent for the future.

    H1 is absolutely soul chilling. So many deaths. The mind reels.

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  13. Cu2: Jurassic Park is an incredible movie, but Last is almost certainly wrong to credit the great screenplay to Michael Chricton. Most of what made the script great came from screenwriter David Koepp, working with suggestions from Spielberg himself.

    “Laying Pipe” is a screenwriting term for feeding an audience boring information that is necessary to get what’s going on or will otherwise pay off later. And Koepp is excellent at laying pipe.

    Look at that Mr. DNA scene (and it should be noted, the idea of having a technical explanation as an animated video was Spielberg’s idea):

    *Right off the bat, the awkwardness as the scientists sit down highlights their discomfort at the whole idea of turning their scientific study into commercialized entertainment.
    *Hammond forgets his lines and the movie runs on without him, reinforcing the idea that he and the JP staff don’t really have control over what they’ve built.
    *The scientists start asking questions and raising points that the audience hasn’t thought of yet–showing us that they don’t really need this video–The whole thing is a perfect solution to the “As you know, I am your uncle” problem.
    *And, though the embedded video cuts off before we get to it, that
    *Genarro confusing Auto-Erotic and Animatronic. That line is beautiful.
    *Grant literally breaking out of the restraints he’s in, escaping the ride. Another reinforcement of the scene.

    Such a beautiful movie.

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  14. I knew I forgot something. I came across H1 this week as well and meant to send it your way. Kudos to Oscar. That video really is quite amazing.

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