The Big Think

October 17, 2014

Word Spew

Filed under: Education,Science,Travel — jasony @ 1:40 pm

In testimony before Congress Thursday, Dr. Frieden was not much more straightforward. His answers often sound like filibusters: long, rolling paragraphs of benign assertion, advertising slogans—“We know how to stop Ebola,” “Our focus is protecting people”—occasionally extraneous data, and testimony to the excellence of our health-care professionals.
It is my impression that everyone who speaks for the government on this issue has been instructed to imagine his audience as anxious children. It feels like how the pediatrician talks to the child, not the parents. It’s as if they’ve been told: “Talk, talk, talk, but don’t say anything. Clarity is the enemy….

You gather they see us as poor, panic-stricken people who want a travel ban because we’re beside ourselves with fear and loathing. Instead of practical, realistic people who are way ahead of our government.”

The language of government now is word-spew.

Read the whole thing.

This is not about politics, and I wish that the people who keep saying it is would simmer down. It’s about public health, stopping a pandemic, and dealing with a threat in an intelligent way.

October 16, 2014

Huge Energy News

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 8:18 pm

Lockheed Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough – Business Insider: “Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade.”

October 15, 2014

Don’t Be a Square. That’s Such OLD NEWS.

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:58 am

NY Times Just Blasted Out of Existence Biggest Myth About George W. Bush & Iraq War: “

While various news sources had reported the finding before, all assertions that Hussein had chemical weapons in some capacity (weapons-grade or not – they had been hidden from U.N. inspectors) were largely scoffed at as nothing more than supercilious bunk. Well, behold…

Chemical weapons were found during the Iraq War but the public never knew about it. Until now: http://t.co/tTDLmHqjps http://t.co/HkigTxIgGb

— New York Times Video (@nytvideo) October 15, 2014″

To anyone who made this talking point a lynchpin for your objection to the Iraq war (as well as a reason to hold your opposition in contempt), your apologies would be kindly appreciated.

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October 14, 2014

Instapundit

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:23 am

Instapundit:

“OBAMACARE: SO GREAT THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IT UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE. Obamacare website won’t reveal insurance costs for 2015 until after election; States with key Senate races face double-digit premium hikes.”

The premium increase date was originally set for Oct 1st, a month before the election, but has recently been moved to November 15th- almost 2 weeks after election day.

Remember: they kept saying “this will be so good everyone will love it and people will thank us and keep electing us because of it”?

And yet the people who supported this will continue to make excuses and rewrite history to keep their cognitive dissonance at bay. It would be sad for them if it weren’t so tragic for us.

October 13, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control Loses Its Grip

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:39 pm

The Centers for Disease Control Loses Its Grip:

“I have lived long enough, now, to have seen it again and again. Something goes badly wrong involving a corporation, a university, a religious denomination, or a branch of government, and the executive in charge or a designated minion goes before the press to engage in what is euphemistically called ‘damage control.’ The spokesman does not level with the public. He or she tries to be reassuring and — more often than not — by lying, succeeds in undermining confidence in the institution he or she represents.

This is what is now going on with the Centers for Disease Control. In recent years, this well-respected outfit has branched out, opining in a politically correct manner on one issue after another outside its proper remit. Now it is faced with a matter absolutely central to its responsibilities — actual disease control — and it flips and flops and flounders because the ultimate boss, the President of the United States, cannot bring himself to put limits on contacts between Americans and the citizens of the countries in Africa where there is an Ebola epidemic.

There is only one way to prevent the spread of an epidemic, and that is quarantine. No medical professional with any sense would suggest that we should admit individuals from Liberia to the United States at this time, and no medical professional worth his or her salt would say that we can test for the disease when the prospective visitor arrives at Immigration and Passport Control. Like most diseases, Ebola has an incubation period. Early on, there are no symptoms: none at all. There is no reliable way to tell whether those arriving at our ports of entry have contracted the disease or not. If we do not want it coming here, for a time, we have to keep everyone out who has been in that neck of the woods.

And what are we told by the authorities? That cutting off contact would contribute to the spread of the epidemic. ‘Just how?’ we are entitled to ask. But no explanation is given because, of course, there is none. We were also told that the disease would not come here. And, when it did come here, we were told that it could easily be contained. And, when it was not contained and a medical professional wearing all the proper gear came down with the disease, we were told that he did not follow the protocol.”

Thrashed by the Cycle

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:12 am

Time Waits For No One:

“If there were only some way of quarantining memes it would be very much appreciated right now. Carrie Dann of NBC News laments ‘If you’re even a casual news consumer, you know that the spread of Ebola, the U.S. airstrikes against ISIS and major security breaches within the Secret Service have dominated media coverage over the last week as Americans mull the safety of their families, U.S. soldiers, and the president himself.’…

…It wasn’t supposed to be this way: the news has hijacked the news cycle.

To appreciate how much this hurts it’s important to remember that the media’s greatest power is its ability to set the public agenda. Ever since 1968 it has jealously guarded the power to both determine what the public talks about (the agenda) and how it is discussed (framing)…

…As MSNBC noted, the public instead of talking about the real issues, is talking about Ebola, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Ukraine, etc. It’s a fine kettle of fish when media consultants find the news revolting. An uprising of the facts is making the management of the news cycle impossible.”

Boo frickin’ hoo. If they spent more time reporting the news instead of framing and massaging it, journalists would be less worried about being at the mercy of the cycle and what that means to the stability of their positions.

October 12, 2014

Play the Hand

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:19 am

October 10, 2014

Ya Gotta Have a Hobby

Filed under: Hobbies,Maker — jasony @ 1:02 pm

Tour the Boeing 737 Flight Simulator Built in a Garage: “Air traffic controller James Price has spent the past decade building a full-sized Boeing 737 flight simulator in his garage.”

Wow

October 9, 2014

Peter Thiel Is Wrong About the Future

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 9:21 am

Peter Thiel Is Wrong About the Future:

“The reason mid-20th-century Americans were optimistic about the future wasn’t that science-fiction writers told cool stories about space travel. Science-fiction glamour in fact worked on only a small slice of the public. (Nobody else in my kindergarten was grabbing for ‘You Will Go to the Moon.’) People believed the future would be better than the present because they believed the present was better than the past. They constantly heard stories — not speculative, futuristic stories but news stories, fashion stories, real-estate stories, medical stories — that reinforced this belief. They remembered epidemics and rejoiced in vaccines and wonder drugs. They looked back on crowded urban walk-ups and appreciated neat suburban homes. They recalled ironing on sweaty summer days and celebrated air conditioning and wash-and-wear fabrics. They marveled at tiny transistor radios and dreamed of going on airplane trips.

Then the stories changed. For good reasons and bad, more and more Americans stopped believing in what they had once viewed as progress. Plastics became a punch line, convenience foods ridiculous, nature the standard of all things right and good. Freeways destroyed neighborhoods. Urban renewal replaced them with forbidding Brutalist plazas. New subdivisions represented a threat to the landscape rather than the promise of the good life. Too-fast airplanes produced window-rattling sonic booms. Insecticides harmed eagles’ eggs. Exploration meant conquest and brutal exploitation. Little by little, the number of modern offenses grew until we found ourselves in a 21st century where some of the most educated, affluent and cultural influentially people in the country are terrified of vaccinating their children. Nothing good, they’ve come to think, comes from disturbing nature.

Optimistic science fiction does not create a belief in technological progress. It reflects it. “

What It Felt Like to Test the First Submarine Nuclear Reactor

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 9:08 am

What It Felt Like to Test the First Submarine Nuclear Reactor – The Atlantic:

“The major difficulty was with the numerous safety circuits, any one of which could cause the reactor to shut down suddenly. These circuits were meant to be extremely tender in their operation; they were, in fact, so sensitive as to provide a serious difficulty to the operators. A submarine propulsion plant not capable of operating without emergency shutdowns under sea motion and depth-charge attack would not be satisfactory, yet the Mark I had a constant plague of ‘scrams’ from such slight causes as vibration from a crew member’s walking through the reactor compartment or a bolt of lightning striking a Montana power line three hundred miles away.”

Cool article

October 8, 2014

We Apologize for the Global Pandemic

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 2:46 pm

A Frisco deputy that was in the ebola apartment is now showing signs of the disease.

I wonder how that DA felt that went to the press conference with the international press and wore the same clothing from his tour of the same apartment now feels.

“Whoops. My bad. We apologize for the inconvenience. But, you know, we still have faith in the system. It works! Just look! On second though, don’t look….”

Seriously, I’ve had it about up to here with people who think it’s funny to be snarky on social media about all the people who are nervous that a communicable, universally fatal hemorrhagic disease might actually merit some concern. I guess it’s hip to post clever signs poking fun at the nervous nellies.

Reading assignent: The Hot Zone.

Liberals Storm California’s Bedrooms | RealClearPolitics

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:51 pm

Liberals Storm California’s Bedrooms:

“…for years I’ve been railing and ranting about the ridiculous myth that liberalism is socially libertarian; that liberals are ‘live and let live’ types simply defending themselves against judgmental conservatives, the real aggressors in the culture war. 

That thinking runs counter to most everything liberals justifiably take pride in as liberals. You can’t be ‘agents for change,’ ‘forces for progress,’ or whatever the current phrase is, and simultaneously deny that you’re the aggressors in the culture war. For instance, just in the last decade, liberals have redefined a millennia-old understanding of marriage while talking as if it were conservatives who wanted to ‘impose’ their values on the nation.”

Exactly right. I’d post this to FB but I weary of the hordes of indignant progressives (and just people who want to be connected to the popular kids) who angrily insist they’re not a part of their own religious crusade while simultaneously telling me I need to shut up or be ostracized socially.

Irony, thy name is “liberal tolerance”.

October 7, 2014

To Infinity… someday

Filed under: Space,Technology — jasony @ 1:18 pm

It’s Been 10 Years Since the X Prize—So Where Is My Space Taxi?:

“When SpaceShipOne rocketed out of the atmosphere over Mojave, California, on October 4, 2004, it reached suborbital space for the second time in less than a week and the third time that year, capturing the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

To those of us on the ground that morning, it seemed that the competition had done what X Prize founder Peter Diamandis had hoped, opening the door to commercial space travel. Not long after, Richard Branson bolstered our hopes by signing SpaceShipOne builder Scaled Composites to build a bigger craft, SpaceShipTwo, for his Virgin Galactic outfit. Branson promised that VG would soon fly paying passengers on suborbital flights, offering the chance to see the curvature of the earth and experience a few minutes of microgravity.

And here we are 10 years later, still stuck on the ground. SpaceShipOne hangs on display in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, and no other craft has duplicated its achievement. In the decade since the X Prize, Scaled has completed SpaceShipTwo and its White Knight 2 mothership. And this past January, the craft completed its third rocket-powered flight. But the spaceship still hasn’t reached the 62-mile Kármán line that marks the internationally accepted boundary of space.

As for Branson, his Virgin Galactic operation has been subject to repeated delays. He said last month that he now expects to inaugurate commercial service to space in February or March of 2015.”

October 6, 2014

Horse—–> Water

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:39 am

A Teachable Moment:

“Are the young struck by the dashed hopes of Obamacare? Give them a copy of Friedrich Hayek’s The Fatal Conceit. They can’t believe the Secret Service farce? Introduce them to James Q. Wilson on bureaucracy. They’re befuddled by the exploitation of an unfortunate incident in Ferguson? Have them read Edward C. Banfield’s The Unheavenly City (especially the chapter he titled ‘Rioting Mainly for Fun and Profit’). Liberalism’s domestic policies aren’t working quite the way they were supposed to? Acquaint them with Irving Kristol: ‘I have observed over the years that the unanticipated consequences of social action are always more important, and usually less agreeable, than the intended consequences.’”

Does it sometimes seem no one is saying what is obviously true? Read Orwell: “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”

October 5, 2014

What Makes Jon Stewart More Insufferable Than Bill Maher

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:28 pm

What Makes Jon Stewart More Insufferable Than Bill Maher:

“But in my defense, I have a unique grievance against Stewart. I’m a Millennial, the age cohort that was raised with the Daily Show in their living rooms, and the most annoying thing about my generation is its infatuation with Stewart. At least once a week a news story about some outrage appears in my Facebook feed with a comment like: ‘I just NEED Jon Stewart to address this tonight,’ as though his one-liners are booster shots or security blankets. It’s not enough to shake your head and disagree anymore. Offenders must face the thumbs up from the emperor and the roar of the colosseum.”

While occasionally funny, Stewart has long since disproven his self-applied label of unbiased commentator and court jester of the status quo. Especially ironic given that he can’t stand his own tactics being applied to him.

It used to be that appreciation of Stewart illustrated an educated and cosmopolitan worldview. Now it merely betrays lazy and shallow thinking. Part of the herd. Moo.

October 3, 2014

Not Yet, but Soon?

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 5:04 pm

The Case for Panic:

“Over the last few years the divergence between what the government promises and what it delivers, between what it says is happening or will happen and what actually is happening and does happen, between what it determines to be important and what the public wishes to be important—this gap has become abysmal, unavoidable, inescapable. We hear of ‘lone-wolf’ terrorism, of ‘workplace violence,’ that if you like your plan you can keep your plan. We are told that Benghazi was a spontaneous demonstration, that al Qaeda is on the run, that the border is secure as it has ever been, that Assad must go, that I didn’t draw a red line, the world drew a red line, that the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups involved not a smidgen of corruption, that the Islamic State is not Islamic. We see the government spend billions on websites that do not function, and the VA consign patients to death by waiting list and then cover it up. We are assured that Putin won’t invade; that the Islamic State is the jayvee team of terrorism; that Bowe Bergdahl served with honor and distinction; that there is a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia.

…It is precisely the intersection of Ebola and globalization that worries me. The only response to a virus this deadly is to quarantine it. Stop flights, suspend visas, and beef up customs and security. It can be done. If the FAA can cancel flights to Israel, why can’t it cancel flights to and from the West African countries whence the outbreak originated?

Simple: because doing so would violate the sacred principles by which our bourgeois liberal elite operate. To deny an individual entry to the United States over fears of contamination would offend our elite’s sense of humanitarian cosmopolitanism. For them, ‘singling out’ nations or cultures from which threats to the public health or safety of the United States originate is illegitimate. It ‘stigmatizes’ those nations or cultures, it ‘shames’ them, it makes them feel unequal. It’s judgmental. It suggests that America prefers her already existing citizens to others.

Such pieties endanger us. They are the reason we were slow to contain the influx of Central American refugees, the reason we do not follow-up on illegal immigrants who fail to show up for hearings, the reason we remain unable to strip jihadists of U.S. citizenship, the reason that a year after two Chechen refugees bombed the Boston Marathon, America is preparing to expand resettlement of Syrian refugees. The imperatives of the caste, the desire to make actual whatever is rattling around Tom Friedman’s brain at a given moment, take precedence over reality.

The system can withstand only so many shocks. For the last two years it has suffered nothing but blows, traumas, national and international concussions. The response by our government has been denial and delusion. But that has further alienated the public, and it won’t be long before things get really weird. Maybe it is time for the political class to panic, too.”

Nom Nom Nom

Filed under: Business — jasony @ 10:57 am

Always Bite Off More Than You Can Chew…Then Chew Like Hell. by Leigh Ashton:

“Always the entrepreneur at the centre of attention offers some pearls of wisdom for those that aspire to be successful in their own business. A few words of advice, sometimes a few words of caution. What to do, what not to do.

The overall message for me is that, over the course of time they each overcame substantial challenges, yet they fought on, hung on and eventually came through.

I thought I’d reproduce some of those words of advice here. They have often helped me. They might help you too.”

Good quotes at the link.

Will Smith: “My father was in the military, so everything was really regimented.”
RD: Was he a taskmaster?
Smith: “Oh, yeah, he was very serious about things being a certain way. When my father got out of the Air Force, he started his own refrigeration business. I might have been 12 and my brother 9 when one day he decided he wanted a new front wall at his shop. He tore the old one down — it was probably 16 feet high and 40 feet long. And he told us that this was going to be our gig over the summer. We were standing there thinking, There will never, ever, be a wall here again.
We went brick by brick for the entire summer and into winter and then back into spring. One day there was a wall there again. I know my dad had been planning this for a long time. He said, ‘Now, don’t you all ever tell me there’s something you can’t do.’ And he walked into the shop. The thing I connect to is: I do not have to build a perfect wall today.
I just have to lay a perfect brick. Just lay one brick, dude.”

I had a situation many years ago when I got myself in way deeper waters than I thought I could handle. I ended up making a suggestion that was at the very edge of my capabilities and the client said “we’d love that!”. Uh oh, I thought.

UH OH

So I was stuck staring down the barrel of a quick deadline and a seemingly impossible task. Over the next few weeks I plowed through, sometimes spending hours trying to wrestle a few inches of progress. But a funny thing happened. I realized that the real job I was tackling wasn’t the whole big giant monster, it was just that single brick. That one element. Just one- one – note was all I needed to find. If I kept my eyes off of the whole job and didn’t let it scare me, the tiny bites I was capable of handling didn’t seem too impossible.

And over time I chipped and sanded and filed and slowly hammered away at it until one day I looked up and… I was done. I had done it.

That experience was something of a milestone for me professionally. Ever since then I’ve had a rock-solid internal conviction that I could do anything I was asked. And from that point on nothing has scared me or shaken my confidence. Because if I can do that, well, this next thing isn’t scary at all.

September 29, 2014

Senna Plans

Filed under: Hobbies — jasony @ 10:11 pm

Screen shot 2014-09-29 at 11.08.26 PM.jpg

September 24, 2014

The Camp Counselor vs. the Intern

Filed under: Business,Education — jasony @ 8:29 pm

The Camp Counselor vs. the Intern:

“But the clinching argument came from my daughter’s impassioned defense of camp counselors, and her outrage that someone glancing at résumés would believe that a 20-year-old who fetches coffee at Google is more impressive than one who spends days and nights nurturing, teaching, organizing, comforting and inspiring…

“What I do there matters.”

September 19, 2014

Haters Beware

Filed under: Computing,Science,Space,Technology — jasony @ 9:17 am

NVIDIA’s new GPU proves moon landing truthers wrong:

“‘It turns out there is a lot of information about the astronomical bodies floating out there in space,’ he explains. ‘Starting with the sun. The sun itself is 128,500 lux — that’s lumens per square meter – but it turns out the moon is a crappy reflector of light.’ Daly discovered that the moon is only 12-percent reflective, and absorbs most of the sunlight hitting it. On the other hand, 12-percent of 128,500 lux is quite a lot. ‘It’s the equivalent to ten 100-watt lightbulbs per square meter of light bouncing off the moon.’ More than enough make Aldrin visible under the lander’s shadow.

While this exercise showed that the moon was reflective enough to highlight Aldrin, something was still wrong. Daly noticed that the astronaut’s side wasn’t lit the same in NVIDIA’s simulation as it was in NASA’s photograph, but he wasn’t sure why. ‘A couple of people really into the moon landing told me, ‘by the way, you should take into account Neil Armstrong and the light coming off of him.’ At first I was like, yeah, whatever — the sun is doing all the work — something the size of a guy in a space suit isn’t going to contribute much light.’ He quickly learned his assumption was wrong: the material on the outside of the astronaut’s suits is 85-percent reflective. ‘Sure enough, we put him in there, adjusted the reflectivity of his suit, put him in the position where the camera would be… and it contributed another 10% or so of light to the side of Buzz Aldrin.'”

Pretty neat pics at the link

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