The Big Think

October 30, 2014

For Those Who Still Care What They Think…

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:56 am

INCISIVE ANALYSIS FROM THE KEEN MINDS AT THE NEW YORK TIMES: If You Vote Republican Next Week, You’re A Bumpkin.

Well, okay then. “Now that you’ve been insulted by the vaunted NYT, all you shambling dimwits in that terrifying wasteland between LA and NYC, I trust you’ll think twice about your vote. . . . You wouldn’t want to draw the contempt of the Paper of Record, would you? You wouldn’t want them to think you’re not one of them, right? Be sophisticated. Be smug. Vote Democrat.”

As usual, Insty nails it.

Of course, the Paper of Record has to resort to last-ditch name calling since it seems like millennials are reconsidering their votes in droves. As the man says, “Even a flatworm is smart enough to turn away from pain. And since Obama was elected in 2008 — and, really, since Dems took over Congress in 2006 — there has been a lot of pain for millennials.”

Voters eventually realize that platitudes like “hope” and “I’m not the other guy” aren’t enough to lead a complex and powerful hyperpower. When your performance record starts to build up (and the liberal record is overpoweringly obvious and inescapable), denying serial ineptitude and amateurishness just becomes transparently silly.

October 26, 2014

Capitalism’s Suffocating Music

Filed under: Business — jasony @ 9:04 am

Capitalism’s Suffocating Music – NYTimes.com: “While recording devices have liberated many of us from commercials on television, the rest of our lives are awash in ads. They’re now nestled among the trailers at movies. They flicker on the screens in taxis.

They’re woven so thoroughly into sporting events, from Nascar races to basketball games, that it’s hard to imagine an era when they weren’t omnipresent. But in a story earlier this year on the website Consumerist, Chris Moran reported that 20 years ago, only one of the major-league baseball stadiums had a corporate moniker, Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

In contrast, 20 of the 30 stadiums now have sponsors.”

h/t Denise and Dana for the link.

October 24, 2014

High Wire

Filed under: Maker,Science — jasony @ 11:21 pm

Well, that record didn’t last.

Alan Eustace Jumps From Stratosphere, Breaking Felix Baumgartner’s World Record – NYTimes.com:

“‘To break an aviation record is incredibly significant,’ said Mark Kelly, the former astronaut, who viewed Mr. Eustace’s ascent. ‘There is an incredible amount of risk. To do it safely is a testament to the people involved.’

Mr. Eustace’s maximum altitude was initially reported as 135,908 feet. Based on information from two data loggers, the final number being submitted to the World Air Sports Federation is 135,890 feet.

The previous altitude record was set by the Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner, who jumped from 128,100 feet on Oct. 14, 2012.

Mr. Eustace was carried aloft without the aid of the sophisticated capsule used by Mr. Baumgartner or millions of dollars in sponsorship money. Instead, Mr. Eustace planned his jump in secrecy, working for almost three years with a small group of technologists skilled in spacesuit design, life-support systems, and parachute and balloon technology.

He carried modest GoPro cameras aloft, connected to his ground-control center by an off-the-shelf radio.”

Can’t Afford a House? Don’t Buy One

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 8:48 am

Can’t Afford a House? Don’t Buy One: “When legislators and activists say that we need low-down-payment loans because most people couldn’t possibly save up for a 20 percent down payment, what they’re really saying is that people can’t actually afford to buy a house. Helping them to go buy one anyway is not a great idea; it will work out well for some, to be sure, but it will have tragic consequences for others, and for the housing market as a whole if there’s another downturn. We just spent six years learning, the very hard way, that you can’t borrow yourself rich. That knowledge is too expensive to throw away so easily.”

Remember in 2008 when everyone had just discovered that all those sub-prime and low/no-doc mortgages were the cause of our economic wreckage? Well:

The Center for American Progress: “We shouldn’t obsess about down payments,” said Julia Gordon, director of housing policy. “Research confirms that low-down-payment loans to lower-wealth borrowers perform very well if the mortgages are well-underwritten, safe and sustainable.”

Hello? Hello? History is calling and wants its lesson back. It was wasted on you.

October 23, 2014

Talk to Me

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 5:34 pm

How One Boy With Autism Became BFF With Apple’s Siri – NYTimes.com: “To Siri, With Love”

This short article about an Autistic boy and his iPhone actually made me a bit misty-eyed. Good on ya, Apple, for enabling this kind of thing.

October 22, 2014

There Is No Voter Fraud

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:52 pm

How to recycle votes: “Meredith Hicks, the director of Work for Progress, a liberal group funded by Democratic Super PACS.: ‘That is not even like lying or something, if someone throws out a ballot, like if you want to fill it out you should do it.’”

…The video of O’Keefe’s encounters with other operatives is equally disturbing. He has a conversation with Greenpeace employee Christina Topping, and suggests he might have access to unused ballots from people who have recently moved out of college fraternity houses. “I mean it is putting the votes to good use,” she responds. “So really, truly, like yeah, that is awesome.”

This takes place in highly contested Colorado House and Senate races. And the people quoted are some of the ones involved in the get-out-the-vote campaigns (and at one point, even an election registration person). Voter fraud is real. Videos like this one put the silver stake in the heart of the argument that it’s not.

Look, if the “other side” wins a fair election then okay. That’s how the system was designed to work, whether we like it or not. But having the system corrupted like this by some of the very people with their hands closest to the election machinery? Do I even have to say how bad that is? Can anyone defend that?

So why do people oppose laws that would stop this sort of corruption?

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.”

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