The Big Think

November 30, 2004

Old Skool Rivalry

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:29 am

What do you get when you combine 1800 pieces of construction paper, 30 custom T-shirts, red and white facepaint, and a lot of chutzpah?

An awesome practical joke.
Yale students tricked Harvard football fans into holding up a giant “WE SUCK!” Sign. Priceless (with video).
See it yourself here. (some language)

Scroll down, scroll down

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 10:43 am

It finally happened. Strongbad got a laptop.


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 1:10 am

Some say we ought to stop space exploration until we solve our problems at home. The real question is how many of these problems can we solve with less than 1 percent of the federal budget? To say that we should wait to explore space until we solve all our problems is to say we’re not going to do it at all.
Author Timothy Ferris, quoted in The Palm Beach Daily New

Numbers Game

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 1:07 am

Thanks to you readers, there have been over 750 individual visits to this blog in the month of November. That’s a laughably small number considering what some other blogs get (69 MILLION total!), but it’s 50 more than last month. Looking forward to the 1000+ visitor month. In the mean time, I’ll try and keep it interesting.

Nice to know that Mom isn’t the only one reading. 🙂

November 29, 2004


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 1:21 pm

People will complain once about price, but forever about quality. If you do top quality work, they may even brag about what it cost as well as your high quality work.
Internet poster

Faculty Clubs and Church Pews

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:46 am

“Most of my Christian friends have no clue what goes on in faculty clubs. And my colleagues in faculty offices cannot imagine what happens in those evangelical churches on Sunday morning.
In both cases, the truth is surprisingly attractive. And surprisingly similar: Churches and universities are the two twenty-first century American enterprises that care most about ideas, about language, and about understanding the world we live in, with all its beauty and ugliness. Nearly all older universities were founded as schools of theology: a telling fact. Another one is this: A large part of what goes on in those church buildings that dot the countryside is education — people reading hard texts, and trying to sort out what they mean.
Christians believe in a God-Man who called himself (among other things) “the Truth.” Truth-seeking, testing beliefs with tough-minded questions and arguments, is a deeply Christian enterprise. Evangelical churches should be swimming in it. Too few are.”

read more of this excellent article here


Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:36 am

Here is a great letter from a soldier who fought in the battle of Fallujah.

November 28, 2004


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 10:07 pm

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
William Morris

Don’t get really good at what you don’t want to do.
Dr. Mark Albion


Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 9:59 pm

I’ve been reading about dovetails recently. At first, I thought the only way to get really nice looking dovetails was with an expensive jig. Happily, however, my woodworking friend Mark has shown me that it’s possible to get nice dovetails with a $30 hand saw and lots of practice. Since $30 < $400, I've decided to go that route. Been reading lots of pages tonight on hand cutting dovetails and I hope to get a good saw for Christmas.

November 27, 2004

Toll Party

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 6:15 pm

Austin is getting Toll Road happy soon. Many of our existing, paid for major roads (183, Mopac), will soon be converted to toll roads, costing the average family $100 per month. Unless we do something to stop it.

Dog Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 2:01 pm

If all goes well, we’ll be adopting this dog sometime next week:

He’s a Blue Dog rescue dog ( Part German Shepherd (knew you’d like that, Giles). Part something else. Very loving and a good personality. He’s playful but not spastic, mellow but not comatose. Doesn’t shed (much). Seems very teachable (already knows sit). Great personality. He’s about 7 months old and about 40 lbs. He was found in a box a few months ago on the side of the road, and went straight into the adoption program. Will grow to about 60 lbs.

We’ve been looking for a dog for a while, and have been in that terminal we’ll-know-the-one-when-we-see-it-but-we’re-not-actively-looking. So far we haven’t fallen in love with any of the dogs we’ve looked at: they just didn’t seem right. We don’t want just any dog; getting a good personality match is important, so it was a bit of a surprise when we went into PetSmart this afternoon (Saturday is adopt-a-dog day!), and went right to this guy. Stayed with him for about an hour, took him on three walks, and got to know him a little. He’s naturally curious about everything. Doesn’t pull on the leash, but doesn’t walk in a straight line either. It’s like he wants to trip you up. We took him around PetSmart several times and walked around the parking lot. He sniffed everything and wanted to see/smell everything, but if you called him to you and knelt down, he was happy to just hang out and be petted. Nice balance.

The way Blue Dog does it is that the prospective owners fill out an application and they bring the dog over to your house to live for a few days to make sure it’s a good fit. There’s a minimal adoption fee, but they do all the spay/neutering/shots/vet visits. It’s also a no-kill program, so if it’s not a good fit the owners don’t have to feel like they are dooming the animal. We’re currently the second application to be put out on this dog, so that tells you what kind of personality he has. Blue Dog will interview both prospectives and see what the best fit is. We don’t know how serious these other people are right now-here’s hoping they’ll decide on a gerbil.


Money, Meet Mouth

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 8:47 am

A few years ago, before the move to Austin, I was a member of the National Space Society. The NSS is a grassroots organization dedicated to the national pursuit of a viable space program. They don’t always get everything right, but they’re a heck of a lot more influential than some guy blathering on obsessively about space on an unread blog. And they represent several hundred thousand people that think we need to be Up There, and are willing to shell out some dough to prove it.
At some point, elected officials have to notice a for-real constituency and act accordingly. I let my membership lapse when we moved, but I’ve rectified that now.


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 8:35 am

This goes back to the conversation I had with Gnat about goodness – would Daddy rather someone said “She’s so pretty” or “She’s so smart” or “She’s so good”? Pretty fades, smart can trick you, but good gives you a compass.

November 24, 2004

Gobble Gobble!

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 12:00 pm

Happy Early Turkey Day!


Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 1:15 am

Anyone want a Gmail account? If you do, give a shout out. I’ve got 6 of em to give away. Yours for the asking.

November 23, 2004

I Brake for Jazz

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 9:44 pm

Nobody does it better than Brake.

November 22, 2004

New Phone and New Number

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 10:26 am

We got our new Motorola V300 phones yesterday. Switched over to T-Mobile. We’re really enjoying the features on the new phones. Cool color screen, lots of options. It’ll take us a while to figure them out.
Also of note: my cell phone number has changed. I’ve dropped my old number in favor of the new one. If you’re a friend or business client I deal with, you should be getting an email from me with the new information soon.
I feel like we’ve gotten something for nothing in this deal. The T-mobile guy matched the phone price of a competitor (free), and we got the 400 minute, shared, free-to each other plan. After canceling my current office line and switching the main phone line over to Vonage, we’re looking at a substantial ($1000+) savings per year. Ain’t technology grand?

High Flight

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 9:35 am

Backers of the bill wanted to allow would-be space tourists to take their risks, just as people do with dangerous sports such as rock climbing, mountain climbing, spelunking, wreck-diving, etc.  Opponents wanted the federal government to step in to protect people, as it does with commercial air travel today.

But what are the risks?  Alex Tabarrok wrote last week that space tourism might well be too dangerous, looking back at the history of rocketry and concluding that launches are just too dangerous.  Then again, Tabarrok found a risk of one in ten thousand too dangerous.

This drew two responses.  Blogger David Nishimura looked at death rates for some popular mountain-climbing destinations and found them very high — from 5-10% in climbing Mount Everest (which hundreds do) to over 26% (and in one case, 41%) for some more risky climbs.  Apparently, some people are willing to spend a lot of money to take a very high risk.  Space travel sounds a lot safer than that.

Count me among the supporters of the proposed Space Tourism Bill. Or even better: hands off, Uncle Sam.

November 21, 2004

Ex Libris Henry Bemis

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 2:56 am

Erin and I moved to Austin on April 1, 2001. I was reading a book during the move and got to wondering how many books and pages I had read over the course of my lifetime. I’ve been a big reader since I can remember- I have a childhood memory of being four years old and sitting in the old round chair in our living room, crying in frustration because I couldn’t read Peanuts in the Sunday funnies. I also remember my dad sitting in the car with me teaching me to read the name on the bread loaf we’d just gotten at the grocery store: Kilpatrick’s Bread. Thanks, Dad.

I’ve always wished I had kept track of the books I’ve read, and so on April 1st of 2001, I decided to start a list. In the last 3 years and 7 months, I’ve read 40,359 pages in 116 books. That works out to an average of 348 pages per book.
This includes only books (no magazines -which I usually read cover to cover anyway, no book tapes, no newspapers), and only books that I’ve finished (I’ve put aside probably three books in three years- something I hate to do). I also keep the list categorized by date (28 books read per year, or one every 2 weeks), by author, and by location (personal library or public library). So far I’ve read 69 books out of my personal library and 47 from the public library. I buy new books for my personal library at a rate that slightly exceeds my yearly reading rate, so my list of owned-but-unread books grows by a few each year. At my current rate, if I stayed away from the library or bookstore, it would take me about three years to exhaust the unread tomes in my possession. A barrister bookcase is the next big project in the shop, and will start to relieve the pressure from double-stacked books currently burdening my groaning shelves.

If I extrapolate out and assume another 45 years of reading, that works out to 438,480 pages. That sounds like a lot until you realize that it’s a meager 1,260 books – about the number of titles contained in a single set of average library shelves (I counted at Barnes and Noble one night). The typical small community library has dozens of shelf stacks and tens of thousands of books. Larger libraries can have hundreds of thousands of titles. According to this page, there are currently 1.5 million books in print, and 22 million have been published in America since 1776. In addition, 120,000 new titles are published every year, or 328 every day. Just in English. So if I keep up my current rate of reading, by the age of 80 I will have read the total U.S. publishing output of… four days. About .0008% of the total number of available English books. When I check out, I will leave millions of books unread, hundreds of millions of pages unperused, and I will never get the chance to think the thoughts, experience the ideas, or be challenged by the minds that have sent their paper and ink messengers into the world.

Ode to a Great Library

This is a forest ever green,
A wood no killing frost can ever bare;
These leaves may fade, but in between
The life is there.

This is a graveyard, but instead
Of death, it’s life, to seeing eyes;
When hands unclose these tombs, the dead
In glory rise.

This is a journey; from this door
Lead many roads with many inns;
Each yields, in measure, joy before
The next begins.

This is a battleground, and grand;
The mighty strive to win the Field;
And much depends on who shall stand
And who shall yield.

This is a city that will last
Until the time when time is gone;
No bodies die until they’ve passed
Their own seed on.

This is a light, a gift of Love
Who bids us learn, that we may see,
Until there dawns the clear light of

Heaven to me will be a golden library card, a comfortable chair, and Time Enough at Last.

November 20, 2004

Shop Pics

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 10:27 pm

My newly built cabinet:

It’s all coming together:

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