The Big Think

September 30, 2006

Space Race

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 11:39 pm

We live in an Age of Wonders. Don’t miss the second half.

Robert Redeker

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:11 pm

“I am now in a catastrophic personal situation. Several death threats have been sent to me, and I have been sentenced to death by organizations of the al-Qaeda movement. […] On the websites condemning me to death there is a map showing how to get to my house to kill me, they have my photo, the places where I work, the telephone numbers, and the death fatwa. […] There is no safe place for me, I have to beg, two evenings here, two evenings there. […] I am under the constant protection of the police. I must cancel all scheduled conferences. And the authorities urge me to keep moving. […] All costs are at my own expense, including those of rents a month or two ahead, the costs of moving twice, legal expenses, etc.

It’s quite sad. I exercised my constitutional rights, and I am punished for it, even in the territory of the Republic. This affair is also an attack against national sovereignty – foreign rules, decided by criminally minded fanatics, punish me for having exercised a constitutional right, and I am subjected, even in France, to great injury.”

More here. How about moderate clerics coming together to rescind the fatwa? Why aren’t they denouncing (and working against) this sort of thing? The radicals have already shown a willingness to kill innocent muslims (which, as I understand it, is expressly forbidden by Islamic law- and no amount of “if you’re going to make an omelet” reasonings can get around that). If moderate Muslims are targets anyway, why not come out against this? Radicalism is like cancer. If you check it early it’s easier to get rid of than if you let it fester. Sure, it might just be cancer of the little toe, but very soon it becomes too large to handle easily.

My question is: where does the kind of treatment that Redeker is dealing with stop? When do the nations of the world unite and tell the Muslim world (the radical parts, anyway), “you shall not sit at the table of civilized nations until you learn to behave like adults“. When Palestine and Syria and Iran et al are universally shunned by the brotherhood of sane nations. Last time I checked, we were still the vast majority of the planet. Let’s not let the .01% of crazies dictate what the rest of us do.

Until that time comes, I fear that this sort of thing will just continue. If nations (and peoples) do not stand together against this, radical muslims will be able to pick off people one by one. If every person and nation stood up and said “no more”, and refused to deal with any country that harbored (or allowed) radical muslims sway in their countries, this sort of thuggish bullying would stop. Alex Wallenwein says it well (complete with a still-extant comic).

Ah yes. Islam: the religion of peace.

Update: Anne Applebaum says much the same thing, but much better than I do.

September 28, 2006

To The Moon, Alice!

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 3:50 pm

It’s all over the tubes today, but I’ll link anyway. Sir Richard Branson announced the design for SpaceShipTwo today. And I’m one small step closer. He said that flights should start within the next 12 months. According to the article, you can trade in two million frequent flier miles on Virgin Atlantic airlines for a free suborbital flight. No kidding.
Cue the Zarathustra.

Visualizing the Tenth Dimension

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 9:47 am

Cool stuff. Flash 8 required.


Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 7:56 am

Drat! There was a zombie rights march here in Austin last week, and I missed it! That might be a good thing, though, since it was protested by the pirates.


Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 7:50 am

China successfully tests a fusion reactor. As Neo would say… whoa. No word on just how “successful” it was, but this hopeful!

September 26, 2006

Space Blog

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 5:15 pm

Anousheh blogs from space.


Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 7:37 am

Resources for getting a free education online. Now there’s no excuse! Dummy! 🙂

September 25, 2006

Pizza Perfection

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 9:47 am

I’ve been perfecting my homemade pizza for a few years, but this guy is truly obsessed. Some good hints and tips there.
Here’s a picture of one of my more successful attempts. A bit heavy on the crust. I’m working on getting it better. Sure is yummy to try.

New Mac Ad

Filed under: Macintosh — jasony @ 9:21 am

It’s about time they did this one.

September 24, 2006

Sixty Thousand!

Filed under: Current Reading — jasony @ 12:14 am

I’ve now read 60,060 book pages since we moved to Austin in April of 2001. Next stop: 100,000!

September 22, 2006

Best. Platformer. Ever.

Filed under: Games — jasony @ 9:13 pm

There are several different genres of video games. The real time strategy (RTS), the first person shooter (FPS), role playing games (RPG’s), racing games, sports games, strategy, and… the platformer. I’m a platformer man myself (though I do enjoy a bit of all other genres), but I always come back to the platformers. By “platformer”, I refer to a style of game that involves lots of jumping from one platform to another (Donkey Kong is a good example of an early platformer, with Ratchet and Clank being one of the more modern ones).

For the last year or two I’ve heard rumors of a platformer made by a small studio and directed by legend Tim Schafer. Everything I read said that aficionados of the genre had to give it a try. It’s one of the few games to attain 9.0+ scores by the reviewers. Since I love the style so much, I asked for it for my birthday and Erin came through. The game is called Psychonauts and, let me tell you, it’s everything that the reviewers said. My only complaint was that it was so short! It only took me 18 hours to get through (the RPG Final Fantasy X took about 60 hours). But that’s a minor complaint. There’s so much detail and wild creativity, not to mention hilarious acting and a riotous script, that I can’t fault the game makers for ending it when they did. It’s clear that they poured every bit of creative effort they had into this thing. The game just shines. My longsuffering wife endured nights filled with loud explosions and freaky dialog but ended up enjoying snippets of it as well.

Psychonauts is available for PS2 and Xbox. If you have either of these boxes and like platformers (or just enjoy really hilarious dialog), give this one a try. I’ve been reading the glowing reviews online and looking forward to a sequel, but it seems that won’t be happening any time soon. That’s a real shame, because a sequel to this gem would be that rare game that I’d be willing to shell out full price ($40) for. What a blast. Here’s the trailer.

Thank you Erin!

September 21, 2006

And I Thought My Studio Was A Mess

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 4:59 pm

“Do Not Touch”
No kidding.

Huge Space News

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 4:59 pm

via Transterrestrial Musings

The First Space Hotel

Bigelow announced at lunch that he will be putting up a three-person space station in late 2009 or early 2010, about fifty percent bigger than an ISS module. He is putting up a destination in hopes that the transportation will come along (and in order to spur the transportation providers). Station will last for several years. Will be executing contracts in 2008 for transportation contracts to Sundancer. Expects between four and eight trips (people and cargo) per year, after six-month shakedown. Then trips will commence whenever transportation becomes available. 2012 will see the launch of another module providing 500 cubic meters of habitable volume. Will support sixteen launches a year for full utilization (again, cargo and people). Minimum three-week stay, but market limited at ten million, so wants to establish private astronaut program for other nations (this is not news). Make sixty instead of eleven countries with an astronaut corps. Could represent on the order of a billion a year in revenue. Launch estimates from fifty to a hundred million per flight. About time to take human spaceflight from the exclusive domain of governments. Will be changing that in the next half decade.

When I was in college I drew up a list of things that I wanted to do someday. On that list was “see the Earth from orbit”. I was a little sheepish about showing my list to people, because, almost without fail, they would scoff at that entry, or at least doubt that the technology would be available before we all shuffle off. It looks like it’ll happen after all, thanks to private industry and the lure of capitalism. And I couldn’t be happier.

1/3rd scale Ferrari

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 9:16 am

This is nuts. And I salute him. Wow.

September 20, 2006

Tips for Freelancers

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 12:11 pm

Great tips on being self-employed here. I would add “Ditch the T.V.”


Filed under: Quoth,Uncategorized — jasony @ 9:40 am

A person who works with his hands is a laborer.
A person who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman.
A person who works with his hands, his brain and his heart is an artist

—Louis Nizer

The Internet Craftsmanship Museum. Amazing.

September 16, 2006

What He Said

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 4:26 pm

I’d post the whole thing, but that’s not really cool in the Blogosphere. Instead, I’ll just point you to it.
Read this.

Oh, and what she said, too.

September 15, 2006

It Was Jealous of the Freezer

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 11:02 pm

Flipped the TV on today to play some Psychonauts when *BLINK*, it went out cold. I think it saw all the attention we put into the microwave and freezer when they died. *Sigh*. Now we’ve got to replace the TV. We’d love to get a widescreen HD set, but they’re still in the four figures, and the low three’s is what we can spend right now. Well, we could drop more, but it seems a bit silly since we don’t, you know, actually watch TV. We still like movies, and television on DVD’s is where it’s at anyway. That and Psychonauts.
So we’re looking for something in the $200-$300 range that’s 28″ diagonally. Any bigger and it won’t fit in our current entertainment pile of particleboard…. I mean, entertainment center. Egad, but I can’t wait to build us a new one.

Mythbusting with Oscar and Felix

Filed under: Mad Science — jasony @ 8:41 am

The Christian Science Monitor has a good article about Mythbusters’ mismatched hosts.

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