The Big Think

April 17, 2014

Future Tech

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 2:31 pm

Actually, not so far in the future:

Okay, Maybe Again (but just this once… promise)

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:53 am

Donetsk leaflet: Jews must register or face deportation – Israel News, Ynetnews:

“Fear replaced communal atmosphere in Donetsk’s Jewish community as armed men handed out a leaflet Passover eve calling on Jews register their religion and property with the interim pro-Russian government or face deportation and loss of citizenship.

“Dear Ukraine citizens of Jewish nationality,” the flyer began, “due to the fact that the leaders of the Jewish community of Ukraine supported Bendery Junta,” a reference to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement which fought for Ukrainian independence at the end of World War II, “and oppose the pro-Slavic People’s Republic of Donetsk, (the interim government) has decided that all citizens of Jewish descent, over 16 years of age and residing within the republic’s territory are required to report to the Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building and register.”

The leaflet detailed what type of documents the Jewish citizens would need to supply: “ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles.”

If the message was not made clear enough, the leaflet further stipulated the consequences that would come to those who failed to abide by the new demands: “Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revoke and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property.”

To add insult to injury, the leaflet demanded the Jews pay a registration fee of $50.”

Toward the end of the article there’s a quote saying

“the Jews in Donetsk are uncertain of anything; it is unclear who is responsible for the leaflet and who controls the city at the moment.”

So the possibility of it being a hoax is still out there. One certainly prays that that’s the case. However there’s also this:

“In a response to a request by a Ukrainian Jewish website, Pushilin, the interim government’s regional chairman, confirmed that the flyers were distributed by his organization, but denied any connection to the leaflet’s content.”

Confusion reigns right now.

April 16, 2014


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 3:23 pm

“It is meaningful to defy even an evil one cannot destroy.”
John C. Wright, The Judge of Ages


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 2:39 pm

How Much Are You Willing to Pay in Taxes?: “”

Well said.

April 15, 2014

Happy Tax Day

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Music,Politics — jasony @ 10:31 am

April 14, 2014

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:55 am


April 12, 2014

More to a good life than college

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 12:55 pm

More to a good life than college – “‘When you could pay your way through college by waiting tables, the idea that you should ‘study what interests you’ was more viable than it is today when the cost of a four-year degree often runs to six figures,’ wrote Glenn Harlan Reynolds, in an essay for The Wall Street Journal.

Our son worries about choosing the wrong path. No more are the 20s the years of do-overs.

‘We aren’t allowed to make mistakes,’ Silas says of his generation.”

(Via .)

Ship Shipping Ship Ships Ships

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 12:50 pm


Cool video showing the ship partially sinking to unload this mess.

Oh, Good Grief

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:19 am

Report: NSA secretly exploited devastating Heartbleed bug for years (Update: NSA denies) | PCWorld: “This week, it came to light that a small error in the open-source OpenSSL implementation of the SSL encryption protocol opened a gaping hole in the security of hundreds of thousands websites and networking equipment across the Net—and that hole had been wide open and exploitable for years. Passwords could be easily grabbed. User names matching those passwords could be easily grabbed. Heck, userdata could be easily grabbed. The ‘Heartbleed’ moniker attached to the devastating bug seemed all too apt.

And Friday afternoon, Bloomberg reported that the National Security Agency has been aware of and actively exploiting the Heartbleed bug for at least two full years,”

If untrue (and it’s still not proven) then they were as caught off guard as the rest of us. But if this is true, I don’t see how any defenders of the organization can continue to say that they’re only doing good, and legally allowable, operations. Also, if this is true (and I really hope it isn’t) then it represents a fairly alarming watermark for security overreach that breaks about fifty laws.

I wonder which it is?

April 9, 2014

Junk Music

Filed under: Mad Science,Music — jasony @ 10:06 am

and here’s the result:

April 8, 2014

Secrets of the Strad

Filed under: Music,Science — jasony @ 3:14 pm

In blind test, soloists like new violins over old (Update):

“Ten world-class soloists put costly Stradivarius violins and new, cheaper ones to a blind scientific test. The results may seem off-key to musicians and collectors, but the new instruments won handily. When the lights were dimmed and the musicians donned dark glasses, the soloists’ top choice out of a dozen old and new violins tested was by far a new one. So was the second choice, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Of the six old violins tested, five were by made by the famous Stradivari family in the 17th and 18th centuries. The newer violins were about 100 times cheaper, said study co-author Joseph Curtin, a Michigan violin maker. But the Strads and other older Italian violins have long been considered superior, even almost magical. The idea was to unlock ‘the secrets of Stradivari,’ the study said.”

April 7, 2014

Silicon Valley scares Americans

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 5:15 pm

Silicon Valley scares Americans: Column:

“‘A level of suspicion and confusion we haven’t had before.’ That’s right. And it’s made worse by the increasing politicization of Silicon Valley, and the transformation of its leaders from rebels into what Joel Kotkin calls ‘the new oligarchs,’ people who once talked about technology as liberation, but who now seem more interested in using technology as an instrument of control. It’s not just NSA spying; it’s that the companies gather data on everyone, with comparatively little legal oversight.

You might have been OK with that a decade or two ago, when Silicon Valley seemed full of people who would stand up to the Man. Now, they are The Man (or The Woman) in many ways, or in cahoots with them. Might the information you gave to OKCupid be used against you someday? Your only protection, really, is their good nature. And how good is that?

After all, OKCupid dug out political donation data to get a CEO fired. If they’re willing to do that sort of thing, how elevated can their standards be, really?”

April 6, 2014

The New Heresy

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 2:30 pm

For the entirety of human history, gay marriage was a veritable non-issue — a thought that had occurred seriously to nobody and for which there was neither a meaningful constituency nor measurable pressure. In the space of a decade it has moved from a fringe and novel proposition to a moral imperative — and, now, to fodder for the new inquisitors. That the issue has now achieved the approval of a narrow majority is to my mind no bad thing. That the movement’s more vocal champions have started bludgeoning their enemies one and a half minutes into their still-fragile victory speaks tremendously ill of them, and does not portend well for the republic…

…Wrapping her intolerance and hysteria in the vapid, saccharine, and malleable language of the graduate-school prospectus, an employee named Sydney Moyer explained on Twitter that because the company offered a “big, open, and messy” “culture of openness and inclusion,” her new CEO should be forced to go away. Once upon a time, individuals who could not square their consciences with their circumstances saw fit to remove themselves. But, safely ensconced under the new cultural carapace, Moyers evidently recognized that she had all the power. I “cannot reconcile having Brendan Eich as CEO with our company’s culture and mission,” Moyers wrote. “Brendan, please step down.” Thus, once again, was the English language — the language of Mill, Shakespeare, Milton, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Churchill — not impressed into the service of individual liberty and defense of conscience but inverted and twisted in the hope of silencing the different. It seems that one can get away with the most extraordinary non sequiturs if one wraps them in enough nonsense. Two spoons of sugar, one of vinegar; let’s hope that nobody notices the taste.

an excellent article concerning the recent burning-at-the-stake of Brendan Eich.


Well Said/a>:

“whatever you think of gay marriage, the general practice of punishing people in business for bygone political donations is most likely to entrench powerful interests and weaken the ability of the powerless to challenge the status quo. There is very likely hypocrisy at work too. Does anyone doubt that had a business fired a CEO six years ago for making a political donation against Prop 8, liberals silent during this controversy (or supportive of the resignation) would’ve argued that contributions have nothing to do with a CEO’s ability to do his job? They’d have called that firing an illiberal outrage, but today they’re averse to vocally disagreeing with allies.”

Hypothetical situation that exactly reverses the polarities: A woman, who by every single account from coworkers, has shown a long history of great employment, concern for fellow employees, and care for children, is found to have had an abortion years ago (through records leaked by pro-life groups). That woman is then made the target of intense public obloquy and urged in the strongest possible terms to step down. Eventually she does.

What would be the reaction among the pro-abortion Left?

The Eich situation indicates a significant mile marker in our culture. It’s not good.

April 3, 2014


Filed under: Audio,Business,Education,Music — jasony @ 6:01 pm

The Amen beat and its repercussions for copyright. A really interesting 18:00 piece if you have time for it.

April 2, 2014

Yes, We Can Wait

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:05 am

Best of the Web Today: Yes, We Can Wait – ” Press secretary Jay Carney opened his daily briefing yesterday with the following gasconade: ‘As you can see by the lines around the country this weekend, we are seeing a surge in enrollment.’

The first thing we thought of when we saw the pictures was the photos we’ve recently seen on Twitter of Venezuelans waiting in bread lines. Waiting in line to purchase necessities is a characteristic not of a prosperous free society but of command economies under repressive regimes. Closer to home, one doubts even the Transportation Security Administration would be so tone-deaf as to advertise long airport lines as an indication it’s doing a great job.”

(Via .)

April 1, 2014

Radiolab: An Appreciation by Ira Glass

Filed under: Audio,Education,Science — jasony @ 6:24 pm

Transom » Radiolab: An Appreciation by Ira Glass: “Artists compete. Not head to head like athletes, but in their souls. Within the appreciation of our fellow artists is the tiny wince, ‘I wish I’d done that.’Ira Glass joins us again on Transom, this time for a loving and envious homage to our friends at Radiolab, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. A radio master salutes his comrades. The great thing about Ira’s analysis is that it’s so detailed. He breaks down exactly what’s so good about Radiolab and why. You could almost learn the tricks and do it yourself. Almost. Honestly, though, you’d lose. It’s better sometimes just to appreciate.”

I’m a RadioLab addict and am always sad when there aren’t any in my feed (a tendency reinforced when I first discovered it a few years ago and mainlined probably 100 hours of the broadcast). If you don’t know this incredible show, you really do owe it to yourself to give it a listen.

March 29, 2014

Untruthful and Untrustworthy Government

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:21 am

Untruthful and Untrustworthy Government:

“Transparency and truth are the fuels that run sophisticated civilizations. Without them, the state grinds to a halt. Lack of trust — not barbarians on the frontier, global warming or cooling, or even epidemics — doomed civilizations of the past, from imperial Rome to the former Soviet Union.

The United States can withstand the untruth of a particular presidential administration if the permanent government itself is honest. Dwight Eisenhower lied about the downed U-2 spy plane inside the Soviet Union. Almost nothing Richard Nixon said about Watergate was true. Intelligence reports of vast stockpiles of WMD in Iraq proved as accurate as Bill Clinton’s assertion that he never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.

Presidents fib. The nation gets outraged. The independent media dig out the truth. And so the system of trust repairs itself.

What distinguishes democracies from tinhorn dictatorships and totalitarian monstrosities are our permanent meritocratic government bureaus that remain nonpartisan and honestly report the truth.

The Benghazi, Associated Press, and National Security Agency scandals are scary, but not as disturbing as growing doubts about the honesty of permanent government itself.”

A single dishonest individual (of any party) may come and go. But if the government as a whole develops a reputation for corruption and dishonesty, the system itself is in grave danger. Read the whole thing.

March 27, 2014

3D printer

Filed under: Maker,Technology — jasony @ 9:13 am

All Metal Printrbot Simple 2014: “”

Getting cheaper!

March 23, 2014

Concertino #1 for Piano

Filed under: Disclosure,Music — jasony @ 8:49 pm

A few years ago I embarked on a self-imposed assignment to write a short piano and orchestra piece in the style of Mozart. Why? No real reason other than to scratch an artistic itch. I’ve always adored the piano concerti of Mozart ever since I studied K.488 in A Major in college at Baylor twenty five years ago. I wrote a pretty extensive term paper on K. 488 and once I got my head inside it, loved it even more. It’s playful, joyful, and lighthearted. At times serious and at times childlike. Everything I love about music.

So I set out to use the style and general form of the concerto and compose something completely original, but in only one movement (hence “concertino instead of concerto“. It’s a “mini-concerto”). The form doesn’t prevent me from adding a second and third movement someday (which I’m increasingly being pulled into, I think), but it also lets it just stand on its own without structurally needing anything else.

The piece sat fallow on my hard drive for years until my friend Scott recently sent me something he had written. This encouraged me to revive the piece and complete it. It has completely taken over my life this past week. I probably spent 30-40 hours writing it and another 25 hours getting the score in shape and then recording each of the individual parts using my high end Logic East/West orchestral samples. It’s not as easy as just playing the parts in, however. When you hear, say, the oboe part shift from long held notes to short staccato to more emphatic phrases you’re actually hearing a subtle layering of many different oboe samples, each crossfaded (sometimes on a note-by-note basis) to get as authentic an oboe sound as MIDI instruments can currently achieve. Multiply that for all the instruments and you get an idea for the amount of tweaking involved. It would be a lot easier to have a live orchestra play it, but this way I’m able to do it for basically free (well, with only time invested) instead of paying the thousands of dollars it would cost to hire an orchestra.

So here, friends, is the result. My Concertino #1 for Piano. This YouTube video includes the score so you can follow along (full screen recommended. Also hi-def selected in the bottom right corner). It can be quite revealing to see what the music is doing as it winds around and inside of itself on its journey.

I’m very proud of this little five minute piece. I hope you like it.

Dedicated to my wife and best friend, because have you met her? :)

March 20, 2014


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:59 am

Our criminal justice system has become a crime: Column:

“When juries decide not to convict because doing so would be unjust, it’s called ‘jury nullification,’ and although everyone admits that it’s a power juries have, many disapprove of it. But when prosecutors decide not to bring charges, it’s called ‘prosecutorial discretion,’ and it’s subject to far less criticism, if it’s even noticed. As for prosecutorial targeting of disfavored groups or individuals, the general attitude is ‘if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.’

The problem with that attitude is that, with today’s broad and vague criminal statutes at both the state and federal level, everyone is guilty of some sort of crime, a point that Harvey Silverglate underscores with the title of his recent book, Three Felonies A Day: How The Feds Target The Innocent, that being the number of felonies that the average American, usually unknowingly, commits.”

Read the whole thing

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