The Big Think

September 30, 2004

Why I Won’t Be Watching the Debates

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 6:06 pm

I’ve spent most of today cleaning the house in prep for some dinner guests tonight, so I’ve spent most of the day with the TV on listening to commentators speculate about the debates tonight. According to what they say, the most important thing tonight will not be who says what about the economy, or the war in Iraq, or the war on terror, or swiftboat vs. National Guard. Nope, the most revealing, important, relevant thing to come out of the debates will be who will sigh, or look at his watch, or say the right zinger at the right time. Body language, manicures, green/yellow/red lights, air conditioning- all these things have suddenly become much more important in the process of choosing the next president than what they actually say. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad an the stakes so high. After a full day of this, I’ve come to the conclusion that the media’s priorities blow more than Mt. St. Helens.

So I’m forgoing the debates and the after-debate spin where everyone believes their guy is the greatest thing since sliced Brie and the other guy is a monkey with an IQ of 32. I’ll read the transcripts online an hour after the debates are over and get some though-out, hopefully less biased interpretation online tomorrow (not that I can’t use my own brain and 3 college degrees to interpret things for myself). Say it with me: “I can’t wait for November 3rd”

World On Fire

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 5:46 pm

Thanks to my good friend Robert for pointing me to this incredible Sarah McLaclan video. World on Fire. I watched this moving 4 minute short at my desk this afternoon and cried.
(quicktime required)

September 29, 2004

Cue the Scary Bass Piano

Filed under: Macintosh — jasony @ 5:39 pm

The Radio Shark is now shipping!


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 5:21 pm

Work: It’s just a matter of how bad you want to be good.


Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 12:20 pm

New category, because hey, I’m narcissistic (wow, proper spelling on the first try).
Let’s see, a little known fact: I’ve broken both my little toes (hey, I didn’t say they’d be interesting or anything 🙂

Sign Me Up

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 11:44 am

msnbc has a good article on today’s SpaceShip One flight. Interesting details on the makeup of the extra ballast (a copy of Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis book, Rutan’s college slide rule, etc), as well as some comments from Anousheh Ansari, who’s family made a multi-million dollar contribution to the X-Prize. I’m just so excited this morning I think I could fly there myself.

SpaceShip One

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 10:58 am

SpaceShip One has successfully completed the first half of the X-prize requirements! They made it to space this morning, despite a rather harrowing reentry. Team Scaled will try to go to space again this Monday.

September 28, 2004

Ben Stein

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 9:57 pm

Ben Stein’s last column is worth a read.

Patrickis a Liberal

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 4:32 pm

Patrick has some interesting thought today about faux-liberalism. I agree with him that the bounds of liberal vs conservative are not as clear as we are normally let to believe. For instance, some of the things that I do that would tag me as a liberal:

1. tea drinker
2. accord driver (Erin’s car… my pickup would be a strong conservative tag)
3. NPR listener (hey, it’s Austin! though I do confess to frustration with their transparent, taxpayer-funded partisanship).
4. STRONG advocate for environmentalism- this comes from being a wilderness guide for 5 summers in college. Heck, we even talked about buying a Prius, but the semi-used Accord was half the price.
5. Just moved out of the 18-24 range, so I guess I’m an “old conservative” now.
6. Ditto Patrick’s “working in the music business”
7. Mac user
8. living in Austin

and the #1 thing that would target me as a liberal: having some good liberal friends. In fact, I think our friends cover the range from “lunatic lefty” to “raging righty”, with a smattering of libertarian. I hope the thing that would break the conservative stereotype about me is that I’m actually willing to get into a civil conversation with all of them.

All this may be moot, though, as this quiz tells me that I’m a straight down the middle, dead-center, bulls-eye centrist, fer cryin’ out loud. How boring is that? I might as well be from the Neutral Planet. Then again, the quiz might be – shocking! – wrong.

Sniglet Needed

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 4:06 pm

Remember Sniglets? Well, I thought of a situation that requires one.

Briefly: It’s the awkward pause as an IM session trails off. Do you say bye and risk offending the person on the other end? Do you slow down your pace of posting and hope they get the hint? Do you close the IM window and hope you haven’t ended the conversation too early? Or do you just both keep posting, getting farther and farther off-topic, until neither one of you can remember what the original topic was?

So here’s your chance to coin a word and get the meme out. What do you think? I think it needs to be something that could be turned into various parts of speech, or reapplied to other situations (ala “spam”).

Great New Blog

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 3:43 pm

Just had to post a link to a great new blog I found: The Speculist. As someone who feels that he was born a century too early, I just love the tagline: “Live to see it”. yeah

Virgin Galactic

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 3:39 pm

I’m probably breaking all kinds of laws by reprinting this here, but this is too good to just link to (by the way, here’s the full link):

Bootstrapping to Space

Those who predicted SpaceShipOne would usher in a new space age for the private sector got it right.

Commercial space flight is big business already. Virgin Atlantic Airlines is creating a new firm, Virgin Galactic, to start providing suborbital space flights by 2007. Virgin Galactic will be using technology it has licensed from the SpaceShipOne project for $25 million dollars.

Like the zero G flights we reported a couple of weeks ago, there won’t be an economy class on these flights. Each of five passengers will pay about $207,000 for their ticket to ride. It was not reported whether this price includes the training that each of these astro-tourists will need.

Why should we normal folks care if the jet-set becomes the astro-set?
Branson said he planned to use the proceeds from the first well-heeled customers to bring prices down in the next few years to make space travel affordable to the regular tourist.

“The orbital hotel will happen,” he said.

Virgin expects 3,000 customers in the first five years.


Filed under: Science — jasony @ 3:35 pm

via msnbc: Robert Bigelow, the millionaire behind Bigelow Aerospace and a plan to develop inflatable space modules for commercial use, is floating the idea of setting up a $50 million prize for the development of a new orbital space vehicle.
In this week’s issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Bigelow is quoted as saying he’d be willing to contribute $25 million to the prize pool. Other partners, perhaps including NASA, would have to come up with the rest of the money. “America’s Space Prize” would be patterned after the Ansari X Prize for suborbital spaceflight, a $10 million award that could well be won in the next week or so.

This is great news, and a good response to the few folks online who have denigrated ideas like the X-prize by saying that it’s not enough money to really make the struggle worth it. Granted, a 10 million dollar prize won’t make up for the money that it would cost to get a ship into space, but when you look at the fact that Virgin Galactic just paid 25 million dollars to license Rutan’s technology, it begins to make sense. Prizes like these prime the pump and generate interest, then the big money arrives in the form of technology licensing.

I’m all for an “America’s Space Prize”. Let’s put NASA out of business.

X2 Prize

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 11:16 am

Via instapundit:
“AS THE X-PRIZE COMPETITION TIGHTENS, Allen Boyle reports that someone wants to set up a new prize: “Robert Bigelow, the millionaire behind Bigelow Aerospace and a plan to develop inflatable space modules for commercial use, is floating the idea of setting up a $50 million prize for the development of a new orbital space vehicle.”

September 27, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:30 am

Vstone robotics has about 20 short quicktime films of their robots doing amazing things. If you have QT and high-speed, and if you like bots, don’t miss this one.

The Return of the DVD

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:17 am

I’ve been holding out for it, and now the ROTK DVD is almost here.

LOTR Fighting

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:08 am

According to ars technica, Peter Jackson hired some fight choreographer to come up with middle-earthish fighting styles.

Mt. Doom

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 10:14 am

A few years ago I had occasion to visit the hulking remains of Mt. St. Helens up in Washington. My friend Giles and I were on a business trip and took a few hours to drive out to the visitor’s center, which is now situated on a ridge a few miles west (I think) of the mountain. Spectacular devastation. I can only imagine what it was like when it happened and immediately afterward. Our visit was made even more surreal by the fact that it was off-season, the visitor’s center is waaaay back up in there down a long road with no other attractions, and it was after closing time. We had the entire mountain view to ourselves. Kinda spooky and very, very cool.
Well, St. Helens is making rumbling noises again. It seems an amazing thing to me that something so utterly gutted as this place could be the site of more eruptions, but the possibility is there.

Road Trip

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 9:38 am

Across the United States in two minutes (time-lapse of a serious road trip in a convertible). Quicktime required. link

To The Moon, Richard!

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 9:30 am

“A Virgin flight to the moon? Not so crazy, according to British entrepreneur Richard Branson, who recently announced that his company Virgin Group plans to launch commercial space flights over the next few years. And while the effort may sound fanciful, Virgin is actually quite serious, having just struck a deal with pioneering aviation designer Burt Rutan to build an aircraft based on his SpaceShipOne vessel”.

One of the reasons I really like Virgin’s Richard Branson.

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