Monthly Archives: April 2016

AMC theaters were toying with the notion of allowing texting in theaters. The response was overwhelmingly negative, and so they ditched the idea pretty quickly.

Which I actually think might be a shame.

To be clear, I completely understand why people don’t want other people texting or fiddling with their phones during movies. I can definitely understand the visceral reaction that a lot of people had. Further, I myself have no particular desire to text in theaters. I wouldn’t mind, however, being able to get on IMDB and finding out who that actress is who looks so familiar. Three minutes on the smartphone can get me undistracted from the rest of the movie!

It’s not that, when I first heard the idea, that I had my heart set on it. I can also pretty easily imagine a constant beeping and buzzing being a distraction from the film. So i’m not entirely sure whether it’s an option that I would take advantage of or not. It is something I might want to try.

The original plan was not to roll it out in every theater, so consumers would have the option of going to a texting showing or a non-texting showing. Enforcement may be a problem, but the theater was willing to take that on. So why not give it a try and see what develops?

A lot of bad publicity is why not, apparently.

Category: Theater


Venezuelans may be surprised about their rolling blackouts, but maybe they should celebrate their new two day workweek and remember that, according to Linda Poon it was the result of their economic success.

It looks like the media has decided that hidden cameras are okay again.

A relatively straightforward (and helpful!) explanation of why the SpaceX barge landing was so significant.

Reading books about architecture isn’t something I would just go out and do, but woah brutalism!

I want to swim in this pool more than I have ever wanted to swim in any pool in my entire life. And I have a mild fear of heights!

The sex life of the college crowd is not as dramatic as we are lead to believe.

The University of Chicago has reformed their speech codes, much to the satisfaction of FIRE.

So, if it pans out, what do we do with the knowledge that a college education is a worthwhile investment for the kids of the wealthy but not the kids of the poor?

chickenIt’s a good thing that Ordinary Times is not housed in Estonia, on the whole I think there’s more to like about President Toomas Henrik than to dislike.

Europeans ponder the question of why Europe have a comparable tech industry. I’m just old enough to remember when phones were used by a certain kind of lefty as indicative of how Americans are not as great and innovative as we think we are.

My wife has some very, very strong opinions on Meaningful Use. I… can’t remember the last time she went on about something uninterrupted for half-an-hour.

TA Frank explains how the Democrats are becoming the party of the 1%.

Since he won a plurality, we pretty much have to name this elementary school after Donald Trump, right?

Rachel Cunliffe says that we shouldn’t celebrate Brazil President Dilma Rousseff’s fall from power because it is, in the end, a case of selective prosecution.

Whether a wealthy city or a poor one, California is an awful place to save money. Texahoma, on the other hand…

Category: Newsroom

parkingchairMatt Shapiro’s piece on twitter journalism is worth a read. In the age of social media, you can find someone that will confirm just about any cardboard cut-out.

While Dan Scotto and I (and CK Macleod) resist it, Nate Silver reports that Trump’s arguments on the (un)fairness of the GOP primary is winning.

I’m increasingly thinking that a lot of the Title IX rape-handling policies instituted by universities aren’t going to survive court challenges.

Some people were up-in-arms about the guy who got into a lot of trouble for having the Trump flag/sign. But while I typically don’t like such ordinances, isn’t this a pretty clear-cut violation of a fair (if wrong-headed) ordinance?

Not that I am presently in the market, but this is kind of encouraging.

Emmett Rensin’s article on the smug style of liberalism was received by all quarters about as you would expect it to be. BSDI, but not in equal measure.

In one sense, it’s not clear that this is any different than “roughing it” by going camping. Wait… I’m not big on camping either. So really, it’s just kind of weird.

Harriet Tubman, American badass.

Oh, thank goodness. For a second there, I’d thought that the Republican primary had spiraled out of control.

RIP, Friends of Abe.

Let us join in the unity of our disdain for Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

The average Millennial is not exactly what you would expect from reading the New York Times (or, for that matter, The Atlantic).

On the one hand, having tiers of citizenship may well make allowing more immigrants in easier. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem like an enduring solution and is rife with problems. For whatever reason, I respond to this the same way some people respond to “regional visas” even though the arguments are kind of similar.

There is more encapsulated in this article about megacities than I think even the author may realize. It is, in essence, a latent confirmation of a vague paranoia about globalism, transnationalism, and those left behind.

As we all know, this is pretty much true. On the other hand, if we’re being honest, never is a Republican suburb more emphatic in its support of the environment as when it has an environmental impact report on the precarious state of Argentinian Garden Snake where that Section 8 housing is slated to go.

Category: Newsroom
Artwork by Zontal

Artwork by Zontal

Over There, have a post about complaints about The Whiteness of Westeros. If Hollywood diversity, or Game of Thrones, is your thing, feel free to check it out. You can comment about it here if you prefer. Over here I wanted to talk about something I glide over in that post.

Ross Douthat has a mini-tweetstorm about some of the less “realistic” aspects of Game of Thrones. The whole thing is below, but this is the one that sets the stage for most of what is to follow:

Ultimately, you just have to ignore the scale. Everything he says about the amazing homogeneity for a place of that scale is true. But that’s only the beginning of the problems that it presents.

Though he goes on to talk about the remarkable political stability of the dynasties on Westeros, that’s only a part of the dynastic problem. The bigger problem is that there is simply no way for one royal family to maintain control over a land more than twice as large as the US (including Alaska) without an army of dragons. As soon as the dragons died off, everything would have crumbled. Since the Targaryens didn’t intermarry much, they wouldn’t have even been able to count on that sort of loyalty. The Barratheons might have had a little more success, but most likely as soon as the Targaryens were gone they’d be looking at a formal confederacy (where the king is trying to stay in the good graces of the regions rather than the other way around) or perpetual war as they tried to hold on to multiple would-be kingdoms breaking off at once.

Many other aspects of the story also wouldn’t have worked, with trips taking days or weeks in Westeros that would have taken years across South America. There are so many things about the story that work with something roughly the size of Great Britain that don’t work with something the size of South America that by far the path of least resistence is to assume that the there was an error in translation.

The size serves next to no purpose story-wise other than feeding into Martin’s sense of gradiosity. The figure itself was derived by calculating the size of The Wall. It’s easier to simply imagine that the size of the wall was a miscalculation.

And here’s Ross’s tweetstorm:

Category: Theater

From a conversation on OT involving the daycare link I shared both there and here, Oscar and Kazzy disagreed with the notion that church-run childcare is tricky. The argument is that they should be treated like any other childcare institution, and given that they are (for the most part) in some states means that it’s Constitutionally permissable (and not an infringement on religious liberty) to do so.

I agree with the first part, though am skittish on the second. There is no doubt that with some possible basic exceptions there is not a Constitutional conflict. I don’t think that entirely lets us off the hook, however.

There are a lot of good reasons to have regulation when it comes to childcare. While excessive licensure may be an issue in some domains, it’s hard to imagine childcare without some sort of licensure regime. Parents don’t know what goes on after they drop their kids off, kids are not necessarily able to articulate what’s going on, and parents may not entirely believe them when they do. It’s not like a bad haircut either in terms of actual damage done or in the ability to hold people accountable (in the case of a barber, simply not going there again).

There are definitely limits to this, though. Not just in how rigorous the requirements should be, but where they should apply. Lain’s babysitter, for example, is completely unlicensed. It’s the daughter of one of my wife’s colleagues. She may have some basic training, but certainly hasn’t undergone any rigorous process or anything of the sort. But we leave our daughter with her because we know her family, trust her upbringing, and we’ll take that chance over someone with all of the appropriate paperwork that we do not know. We’ll obviously take the discount as well, though that’s obviously not the issue for us that it is for other people.

I don’t think that’s entirely dissimilar to a church. I think there can often be that same sort of intimate relationship where the common faith and social relationship can stand in replacement of the ordinary markers of trustworthiness. That a parent might reasonably trust their church to look after 15 kids while a private entity needs to cap it at 10 (or whatever). The existence of the regulation makes it so that parents who don’t have a church, or a colleague’s daughter, or whatever can have maybe a little degree of assurance that it’s not a bum outfit that is going to abuse their child. But with that option available, alternate arrangements for others also seems reasonable.

Which is not to say that I want to give churches a pass. Like I say, it’s tricky! Because you don’t want churches running reputable childcare centers out of business on the basis of the lower costs they can achieve through these exemptions. You don’t want someone to set up a center, hang a cross by the shingle, and do whatever they want. This is further complicated by the fact that governments tend to loathe trying to discern genuine faith and the genuine faithfulness of an institution. I can definitely understand why Kazzy in particular, who views things from the prospective of a provider, believes that it’s important for all providers to maintain certain standards of care with no exceptions.

It could also be the the exemptions I might carve out would be pretty worthless anyway. That’s something Kazzy would know a lot better than I do. But I’d be less inclined to support a “religious daycare” outfit that wasn’t actually connected to a place of worship or religious organization that exists apart from the center… though that would likely put me in more First Amendment hot water than what the states are doing. I also might look at churches that offer day care selectively to members of their faith. That may not be workable, either of all of them flat-out rely on outside families. So the end result might be that I end up supporting all of the same regulations as Kazzy and Oscar, if a bit more reluctantly.

Category: Statehouse


Category: Statehouse


Robert Tracinski argues that Donald Trump is an Ayn Rand villain.

Chuck Wendig is not so impressed with Tiny House Hunters. Where there’s a lack of land availability and a lack of money I can understand it, as well as for idealistic environmentalists, but mobile homes are relatively cheap! {via Saul}

Trumwill being Trumwill, I’m kind of jazzed at the prospect of floating houses. {via Jhanley}

Robert Colvile talks of the schools that Katrina Built. Though the most recent data on vouchers in Louisiana isn’t good, the charter school system has produced some pretty solid results.

Yahoo had better hope that Verizon buys it up, because the alternative is just too embarrassing.

This kind of bums me out, because Alaskan Socialism is Socialism I can believe in! {via Jhanley}

The good news is that there are some teaching jobs in paradise that pay $50,000 a year. The bad news is that Hawaii is expensive.

The intersection between church and daycare regulation is… tricky.

Most resplendent.

Frank Marcopolos says that audiobooks and “earbud content” are only getting started.

Uber found an interesting ally in the Travis County Sheriff’s office, on account of what they believe it does for the prevention of drunk driving.

Even setting aside the Brutalism (yay Brutalism!), these pictures of Hong Kong are surreal.

Joe Carter explains how churches can help the poor by combatting predatory lending.

“Do what you love” is still terrible advice.

There was a train line in Japan that continues to run to deliver one high school student to and from school. Then he graduated and it stopped.

Category: Newsroom

Kriston Capps takes on the question of DC Statehood and state pre-emption:

In Alabama, Governor Robert Bentley signed a bill into law blocking cities from passing local minimum-wage ordinances the day after the Birmingham City Council voted to raise its minimum wage. In Texas, the Denton City Council was forced to repeal its ban on fracking after the state issued a law prohibiting cities from passing fracking bans. Tennessee is mulling preemptive anti-transgender legislation; Mississippi has already gone there.

Paid sick leave, smoking bans, environmental controls, refugee relocation, transgender rights, plastic-bag fees, the minimum wage: All of these issues matter to voters. Residents make decisions about these matters by voting on them. But then lawmakers that residents usually did not elect make decisions about their lives, over their heads. That’s preemption—and that’s the way many things work in the District, except that instead of state legislators preempting city councilors, our laws are preempted by Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz.

Capps is essentially setting up a systems question. Why should states be allowed to pre-empt local legislation on the minimum wage, LGBTQ protections, and so on. These are all very interesting questions, though it’s quite apparent from his piece that Capps takes his preferred policy conclusions and works backwards.

Let’s take the minimum wage, for example. The question should not be as narrow as “Should Alabama pre-empt Birmingham’s desire for a higher minimum wage?” but rather “Who should set the minimum wage: local government, state government, or federal? To some degree, it’s going to be a combination of them and that’s fine. I further have no real problem with the status quo where federal standards, then state standards, then local standards are set and each must be higher than the other. In fact, that’s my preference. However, there is no systems or process reason why this must be the case. More to the point, if it is legitimate for California to set Bakersfield’s minimum wage higher than it otherwise would, it’s equally legitimate for Alabama to tell Birmingham to set its minimum wage lower than it otherwise would.

Everything else is just a preference for a higher minimum wage or a lower one. Which is to say, it’s a policy preference and not a process or a systems one.

As I say, my own preference is that for a ratchet-up option. Though the purist in me would love for all minimum wage issues to be handled at the state or local level, I’m not quite that pure. There ought to be a floor, at least for the states (pulling Puerto Rico on board may have been a mistake). However, the floor being the floor, it should be made with Mississippi in mind. If we’re only going to allow a ratchet-up, then it only makes sense to start from a low point. California and New York didn’t do that, making my response to their decisions entirely different from that of Seattle and San Francisco.

The other issues he presents are more complicated. LGBTQ rights are, or ought to be, more universal and not so much a response to local economic needs. And while patchwork laws on employment make a fair amount of sense, it makes less so when it comes to which bathroom which person can use (or which hotel which person is allowed to stay at, and so on). So from a process standpoint, it makes a lot more sense for it to be established at the state (or federal) level. Which I sort of hate, because man was I thrilled when Salt Lake County passed its anti-discrimination laws for gay folks. But from a process standpoint, I wouldn’t really be able to object to the state pre-empting that law. I’d just really hate it from a policy standpoint.

As far as Capps’ DC question goes, while I don’t support statehood I do support DC having all of the self-governing authority that the states have.

Category: Statehouse

I come up with four. Dave Hackensack says three. Answers seem to mostly range between two and four.

Same but different | My entry #whpidentity for @instagram [thank you #instagram for this featuring ❤️]

A photo posted by tiziana vergari iPhoneography (@tizzia) on

Whatcha got?

Category: Coffeehouse


Category: Kitchen