Assorted links


a big development, underreported

You should add at least one European news site to morning viewing then, because it was covered by everyone there.

# uhhh windows 8? remove the start button? brilliant

@1 Yep -- Microsoft screwed up Windows (last year, I grabbed a nice Windows 7 notebook before they disappeared), Google screwed up Maps for Android (I hunted down and re-installed the old version) and is systematically making some of their other products less useful by trying to push users to Google+. And have you tried to search by 'lowest price' on Amazon or eBay recently? It's still possible, sort of, if you know the tricks and/or are willing to wade through a lot of irrelevant results, but both sites have clearly gone to quite a lot of trouble to make it slow and difficult. On the other hand, it's very easy to sort by 'relevance' (AKA -- products with paid placements, higher profit margins, etc). Of course we were all spoiled when internet companies were running on initial capital and weren't yet worrying about how to monetize. It's pretty clear now, though, that party is over.

I find the devolution of Google design quite annoying. In my opinion, they used to be the standard of great web app design--GMail, Google Maps, and others were truly groundbreaking in their functionality.

Now they seem to be infected by the Apple disease: hiding all the features must be better design because it looks clean.

Did any of these firms promise, "If you like your features, then you can keep them?"

Very well played.

Even if they did, what difference, at this point, does it make?

#1 unclear what features you or anyone think disappeared

The link mentions that Apple is trying to obtain commonality between OS X and iOS 7.

This sounds remarkably like Microsoft trying to find commonality between tablets and PCs.

One can see why these companies want this commonality, but what's in it for users? A PC is not a tablet, and apparently many users don't want one that works like one.

In any case, the battle over "who owns this" was probably lost when we began buying licenses to use stuff instead of just buying the stuff. That, of course, is why Amazon had the right to disappear those books off your Kindle- you never actually bought copies of the books, you only bought a license to use certain digital files (in compliance with the ToS, etc.).

No doubt the trend will accelerate if "software as a service" continues to expand its marketshare (as appears likely).

@#4 - Four of the top 10 musicians are from the 1980s (if you count Elton John too) and largely in the top half. Lady Gaga looks hideous, like that cadaver art by the German Gunther van Hagens. I feel almost sorry for musicians, and it's because IMO of weak copyright laws (yes, weak) that require musicians to tour in order to make money, and touring is something not all sensitive souls can do well. So you have the belt out a lusty tune types that can stand up well to the elements that are successful. Hollerin' more than singing, and with Auto-tune and lip-synching you can argue that they are peddling not music but the concert experience. I know I sound like an old fogey, but I'm right. I've been to open air concerts too, and it was a fun experience.

#4 shows yet again the true ideological roots of rock 'n' roll: the operative slogan was NEVER merely "sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll"--it was ALWAYS "sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll (and [unvoiced] lots and lots and lots of cash)": recording sales, ticket sales, merchandising, advertising, endorsements galore.
"Revolution" (the SDS/Yippie/Weather Underground version, not either version of the Beatles' tune) was no longer a saleable commodity after Kent State. Plus, rock 'n' roll royalty would never have gained their purple or their ermine had an actual youth revolt ensued (sigh: the perennial status of callow youth . . .).
Even or especially with its almost-exclusive commercial appeal, what is still called "rock 'n' roll" would make an excellent subject for plastination, but since the musical idiom attained immortal stasis years and decades ago, such a display might be perceived as a tad redundant. (I hope I'm conveying the clear sense that I abandoned rock 'n' roll while still a teen.)

Another possible reason new stars aren't making as much money as the old stars is that popular music itself isn't nearly as popular with young people as it was from say, 1964 - 1994. There was no material competition with the internet and video games in those days. Who still goes to most concerts? Old people. Popular music still exists and there are some big stars, but music no longer dominates popular culture.

This factor is probably under-appreciated. When I was teenager (1979-1986) music was the major form of entertainment for myself and my contemporaries outside of television- and we were watching music on television, too.

Music has also entered its own version of the great stagnation. Simon Reynolds talks about this in "Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past" and Kurt Andersen deals with it briefly in his Vanity Fair piece "You Say You Want a Devolution?".

If music doesn't surprise and shock like it used to, you wouldn't expect it to dominate popular culture.

I don't think music is less popular, so much as the audience has fragmented, and consumption of it is less communal. I also think Ray's belief that there is less concerts, and fewer outdoor concerts is just plain wrong. There was no Lalapalooza in the 70s. Ray's just stopped going to them.

As for the underlying pay, there are two factors that boost the incomes of older acts: deeper back catalogs, and older (i.e. wealthier) fans. It is easy for Madonna to make money when Toyota is paying her royalties for background Muzak in their latest commercial, and she literally hasn't had to do a thing with said song in twenty years, not to mention having twenty times as many songs to sell.

There were crap-tacular pop artists in 1971 too. Go look at the list of bands in the top 40 from your high school years. Every single one of them would'a used auto-tune too if they could have.

As an old fogey, I remember when the music was good and the dancing laughable. The market has flipped.

@Michael I suspect the fragmentation of musical audiences and styles today is an illusion of more variety created by the tide having receded and stranded many small pools on the beach, when in fact the deeper water sustained a larger, more complex ecosystem. In the era between JFK and AOL, music was communal in the sense that the ocean is communal.

We should sentence file-sharers to firing squads?

Well they did have the death penalty for patent infringement in the middle east I once heard, I believe it was the Shah's Iran. And a quick Google search shows indeed back in the days a lot of countries had criminal sanctions for IP infringement, laughable since most of these countries did not enforce these laws: citing John Boyle, Jr., May Patent Infringement Be a Criminal Conspiracy? (1935). (Among these countries are France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Denmark, Norway,Sweden, Spain, Bulgaria, Greece, Luxemburg, Persia, Poland, Argentine Republic, Bolivia,Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.)

I personally think that criminal laws are a blunt instrument to use, and instead would propose a 'victim reimbursement scheme' where the government would pay money to inventors shafted by society that steals their inventions.

LOL @ weak copyright laws. Lady Gaga is decidedly not hideous when she's not wearing a meat suit. Check the Applause video for one example (of many)

#3 was a great read -- enlightening, to the point, and easy enough for an undergrad like myself understand.

#2 is mis-captioned. I think for a number of reasons Americans no longer concentrate on handgun control. Assault-rife control, for better or worse, has siphoned attention. (BTW, I am reading "The Book of the Rifle", by Thomas Francis Fremantle (1901) and recommend it highly.)

No, I think you're causing cause and effect. The shift of the gun control groups to rifles was probably because they were loosing on the handgun argument.

Just look at the numbers, rifles constitute, what 2-3% of murders, compared to 50% with handguns. ( link: So, why would groups shift to rifle control?

The shift in focus to "military style" rifles was entirely a PR shift as a result of loosing the handgun argument. Consider the timeline. Based on the graph in #2, the biggest swing happened through the 60s and 70s, the whole "assault weapon" focus didn't start until the mid 80s to early 90s.

As someone with a fair knowledge of the evolution of military arms (see above), I see a pretty clear distinction and advantage to high-capacity, semi-automatic, arms. They are literally one step below the tommy guns banned from wide ownership by the National Firearms Act of 1938.

We'd be fine, actually, with sporting arms redistricted to the repeating type.

Heck, when you think of other English speaking market democracies, like Australia, Canada, or the UK, they are all fine and civilized places to live, even with restrictions on both handguns and high-capacity, semi-automatic, arms.

The problem with classifying guns by capacity is that any gun that accepts a detachable magazine can accept a magazine of pretty much any arbitrary size. There is really no way to restrict "assault rifles" without banning any sort of semi-automatic firearm that accepts a detachable magazine.

Exactly, which is why California invented the "bullet button" concept, to make detachable magazine slower and more like fixed ones.

Still, as I say, I think repeating arms are sufficient for any sporting purpose. I shy away from "self defense" arguments because I believe the data is that any gun is more likely to kill its owner, or a member of his family, than an intruder.

@john personna - how about in revolt of an oppressive government?

@Locke, as I say, "Australia, Canada, or the UK" are all nice places, with moderate (from the US perspective strong) controls in place. When those democracies want change, they do it through the political process. Indeed the need for armed rebellion, as a last measure, seems pretty extreme.

There is also a secondary effect to thinking that way, about that option. Gun advocates (as we see in these threads) pick up the framing that they are armed to oppose the state, or preparing for SHTF or TEOTWAWKI. None of these are healthy or realistic. Frankly, they contribute to unhealthy paranoia.

John, you don't have fair knowledge of arms. California did not invent the concept of the bullet button. California banned magazines that could be detached without the use of a tool. To get around this asinine law, manufacturers and owners created the bullet button which makes the magazine detachable with a tool, such as a bullet, screwdriver, or even a stout ballpoint pen. Although the state also banned importation of magazines with a capacity greater than 10, it did not ban possession. Moreover, pre-ban magazines are exempt and most magazines do not have a date of manufacture on them. So Sbard is correct that the ban effectively does not exist except to annoy the hell out of gun owners.

The legislature recently tried to ban the bullet button, citing them as a loophole, but their governor vetoed it.

California declares a weapon to be an assault weapon based on cosmetic "features," not function, and two weapons that have identical firing characteristics can have mixed legality.

California also has an approved handgun list, requiring testing for "safety." This is another phony measure designed only to drive up price and availability. Some guns are not on the approved list solely because they are a different color than the one that was tested.

In other words, California banned mean looking guns. It's gun control laws are likely intended to be a nuisance because they have no plausible impact on crime or lethality.

The second amendment wasnt passed to ensure home defense, hunting, or sport shooting. Recall that the Bill of Rights prescribed the limits of federal power, and it should be clear that the 2A was intended to keep the odds even in a fight AGAINST federal troops. This makes it clear that citizens may possess so called assault rifles precisely because the federal army has them.

Per wikipedia, "a bullet was defined as a tool per state law"

"California banned mean looking guns" is just a silly digression. High-capacity, semi-automatic, arms are appreciably different in risk than low capacity repeating arms. In fact, the currently "popular" AR-15 type was specifically designed with two goals in mind. One that it fire a large capacity of man-maiming rounds, and two that the rounds themselves be light enough that a soldier could carry many of them, and be self-supplied. So of course they are preferred by spree killers. That is their design goal.

I've never heard that interpretation before.

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed so that the people will be even with the well regulated milita in a firefight."

The AR-15 does not shoot a bullet heavy enough for most North American game, because a heavy round would carry fewer to the pound, reducing the fire of a self-supplied soldier.

Obviously Mark, that idea was muted by the 1934 act. If we were meant to have parity, we'd have machine guns.

As god is my witness, gun rights folks are defined entirely by their pedantry.


Check out this book review David Frum published:

Apparently the roots of the modern gun control movement (especially in California) stem from the Civil Rights Movement.

No, Mark, the people ARE the well-regulated militia, and the standing army was limited, in the Constitution, to only two years. The 2A was always intended and always presented as a check on federal power.

John, the California penal statute defining an assault weapon says NOTHING about a tool, bullet or otherwise. It states that a weapon may not have a "detachable magazine" exceeding ten rounds. The CDOJ subsequently issued regulations stating that detachable magazine does not imply permanance, but that it cannot be removed by hand. At that time, the bullet button had already been invented to get around the law, and the CDOJ interpreted a bullet to be a tool. So you are confused between what the lawmakers said and what eventually shook out after lawsuits and interpretation.

@Dan S, I read the Frum post, and while the parallels are interesting, I'm skeptical. I think the right's support for gun rights has more to do with the rise of modern conservatism than civil rights radicalism. It is about individualism and self-sufficiency over against dependence on government. It is about preventing the expansion of government into every sphere of life, not outright opposition to government authority. It is not really revolutionary; even if the rhetoric occasionally becomes revolutionary, I see that as a combination of exaggeration to express political views and hearkening back to what are seen as the limited-government principles of the American Revolution.

The average conservative gun supporter would not confront the police like the story in the article, nor would they sympathize with such behavior. American conservatives generally are supportive of the police. There really is little commonality between the (tiny) militia groups and broader conservatism.

On the other hand, there is an urban, largely black, gun culture which is hostile to the police and equates guns with power. The Black Panthers may be the genesis of that. And that might help explain why support for gun rights is so high. The numbers indicate it is more than just conservatives who oppose gun control.


You should be skeptical because it isnt true. The pro-gun movement arose solely because of the anti-gun movement. Before that time, the right to keep and bear arms was a foregone conclusion. This nation went 150 years of its history before the first major piece of federal gun control. And that law survived a Supreme Court decision largely because the plaintiff had passed away and the complaint was undefended.

Also I have heard that contrary to popular opinion, the most deadly form of rifle fire is NOT "full automatic" where you are spraying bullets as in suppression fire, and wasting ammo, but in fact 'burst' or 'single shot' mode, where you can actually hit the target. After taking to a military commando type here in the Philippines. Not that I've ever fired a rifle in my life, just a handgun.

You are correct, Ray, not that automatic weapons dont have their uses. True machineguns are designed to lay down lots of lead. This isnt merely for suppression, but for enfilade fire against the flank of a linear area target (such as a line of advancing soldiers). Enfilade fire is when the long axis of the beaten zone of the weapon is congruent with the long axis of an area target.

I can contrive scenarios where a machinegun would be highly effective, but they are largely impractical outside of war. An M240B weighs about 25 pounds without ammunition, and it will burn through a belt of ammunition in no time.

There is a reason why there are only two machineguns in an infantry platoon and why machinegun teams have three people: gunner, assistant gunner, ammo bearer.

Even a SAW is a burden to carry, and the ammo is gone fast, most of it missing the targets.

Barrel shroud.

Google's Ngram Viewer shows "assault rifle" taking off in 1960: link.

That was also the year that the US Army adopted the M-16. I suspect there is a correlation between that and rising usage of "assault rifle" during the Vietnam War.

Same for "gun control"

You do realize that an "assault rifle" is distinct and completely different than an "assault weapon". The former were heavily regulated back in the 30s, and the latter is a purely cosmetic legal construction that has no bearing on function. The term was purposefully created to exploit the confusion.

A word to the wise: generally, if a person self-declares as having "fair knowledge" on a topic, that usually a warning sign that the opposite is true. Way to prove the point.

Linkity link:

I know that gun advocates are carefully schooled to say that high-capacity, semi-automatic, weapons with removable magazines are only "cosmetically" different from a repeater with fixed magazine and low capacity. That is a lie.

You anti-gun zealots are carefully schooled to focus on the way a gun looks instead of the way it functions, because images play better propaganda.

California law on weapons is a mess. One can take a garden variety shotgun and put a pistol grip on it, and that is legal. One can have a stock, and that is legal. But a stock AND a pistol grip is illegal. Oh, but it is lawful to have a semiautomatic shotgun with a stock and pistol grip.

California banned specific rifles by make and model, but other weapons that function and look just like them are legal.

NO ONE is saying that a high capacity magazine is different than a smaller capacity only cosmetically. This is a straw man youve built so you can feel smart. California law only considers a weapon an "assault weapon" if it has several cosmetic features. The 90s AWB did the same.

Go back to school John. You dont know anything about weapons or the laws against them. People who own weapons know them both.

It is a funny world where a guy enjoying a 500 page book on the evolution of the rifle is an "anti-gun nut."

#6 I assume we will be seeing this example in the second edition of Average is Over. Now Above-Average is Over, Too.

#4 This makes me feel a lot better about the fact that I know nothing about modern music.

# 6:

Protests of 1,000 and 5,000? This seems a little weak. Obviously students are not represented in these. Maybe that's about as many government workers one could get organized on their lunch hour. Or perhaps, how many of the same workers got some paid time off to protest.

I just don't see spontaneous grass-roots upwelling of support of either the EU or IMC, except those who's paycheck depends on them.

Actually, that's an awfully lot of people protesting baseball scheduling :)

In all seriousness, though, this story isn't mainly about protests. It's about EU vs. Russian influence, tensions between different cultural groups within Ukraine, and possibly good government vs. corruption (the previous prime minister is in jail on what many observers believe to be a politically-motivated conviction).

It is going to matter for a lot more than the paychecks of some government workers.

#2: Related to civil rights movement?

Re: #2, I suspect all those psychotically violent negro riots in the 60s and 70s had a big impact on the average person's understanding of his fellow citizen's desire for a means of self defense. The handgun is a truly "disruptive"/"revolutionary" development as it provides a convenient mode of defense that completely nullifies the physical disadvantages of being old/female/outnumbered. Prior weapons such as clubs, knives, and swords at best mitigated and at worse magnified the disadvantage, but high quality handguns have completely altered the paradigm as we have seen in the Goetz and Zimmerman battles. Seeing this new paradigm, people are coming to understand that it is a human right for everyone - able-bodied male or old/female - to use the means now available to defend themselves from bigger/stronger/more numerous assailants, which was never before possible in all of human history.

Well said. And now my state finally passed a real concealed carry law.

Morally, feature downgrades come in 3 classes.

#1: Google and others down-tweak free products. Meh. #2 (slightly worse) You unwillingly accept the stupid bits of a Windows upgrade because MS makes it hard to write windows-compatible competitors. But if you don't like that system, don't use Windows. A similar analysis goes for many non-MS products.

#3 Is what gives me the willies. Sony, Tesla, Amazon and others have back-doors into your machines with which they remove functionality that you paid for. They might have a good excuse for their recall, but they should need permission. Once upon at time Amazon deleted copies of 1984 off people's Kindles. (See It is only a matter of time before criminals hijack the update process and install malware in millions of self-driving motor cars.

This might undermine freedom a lot. Ordinary private property diffuses power, because it distributes control over physical stuff over millions of owners. Governments always claimed the right to override that, but they had to do it in a clumsy fashion. Big companies can collect a lot of property, but a lot remains distributed. Over-the-air updates undermine the power we have over that distributed stuff.

#2 - The US is much more fragmented and populous since 1960. Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and post-Katrina New Orleans are ample proof of what happens when multi-ethnic or multi-creedal polities break down. You don't need much to convince roving gangs that there are softer targets, and the AR-15 platform is light, reliable, easy to use and currently affordable. When you really need one, they'll be too expensive.

#2 - the US is a lot more fragmented place than in 1960. Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, post-Katrina New Orleans all provide ample evidence of what happens when the civil order breaks down in a multi-ethnic or multi-creedal polity. It doesn't take much to convince roving gangs that there are softer targets, and the AR-15 platform is light, reliable, easy to use and relatively affordable. When you really need one, it won't be affordable.

Copying my comment from Caplan's place on gun control, with some additions.

In the 1950s through the '70s, gun control was more of a right-wing issue used to exert control over blacks. With the success of the civil rights movement, the focus changed to generic "anti-crime" measures to combat urban violence and complement the Drug War. Even in the '80s, it was bipartisan (Brady). In the early '90s the worm turned with Ruby Ridge and Waco.

People learned that all this benevolent gun control hadn't reduced crime (though crime would start falling right about then, ironically). The federal government was so upset about a sawed-off shotgun they would shoot mothers holding babies and burn children to death (not necessarily the fact, but how it was perceived).

Conversely, I believe left-wingers began to see gun control not as a crime-reduction tool primarily, but a weapon against the sort of people involved in those incidents. Rural, religious, possibly racist right-wing nutjobs. The message to the right was: "you could be next!". The message to the left was: "the right could be next!".

Gun control became decoupled from its crime-fighting intent. "Assault weapons" became the focus even though they are vanishingly rare in crimes. They are quite popular with anti-government militia types. Culture warfare through attacking the symbols, rather than the substance.

It is my thesis that this shift in focus from the crime problem (handguns) to the cultural war (assault rifles) is also responsible for at least part of the shift in popularity shown in the graph. And though the lines had already crossed, you will note after '91, the divergence starts increasing rapidly. Gun control goes from a scheme to inconvenience and restrict blacks to an ineffectual crime-fighting measure to a scheme to inconvenience and restrict rural whites. It makes a lot more sense when you think of it as a tool of the urban majority to bludgeon their cultural foes, whether that be the minority next door or the flyover bozos in the rest of the country.

#2: perhaps people idealizes a past where grandpa had a farm and a gun. if people in the past had "more", people from today look for compensation.

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