The Big Think

February 28, 2009

Final Night

Filed under: Disclosure,Music — jasony @ 4:42 pm

Tonight is the final night of All University Sing 2009. 17 acts will cross the stage and be seen by 2200 enthusiastic audience members. We will perform the four hour show with all the skill that months of preparation and weeks of rehearsal have given us, and God (and the sound dept.) willing, the judges will arrive at a decision over who gets to go on to Pigskin in the fall.

This year has been an incredible experience for me. It’s the 19th Sing I’ve been involved in and I’ve loved every minute of getting to know the Sing chairs and sharing in their journey. This afternoon I was able to meet many of their parents at the open stage reception and it was fun to be paparrazzi’d by all the cameras. What an amazing job I have.

Tonight is also very bittersweet. This year, especially. Normally when they announce the eight acts that will be going on to perform in Pigskin, at least six of them are unsurprising. Tonight’s final judging results are all up in the air. The acts are really, really close and if you ask ten people you’ll get ten lists of finalists that disagree with each other. The groups know this so they’re all sprinting as hard as they can for the finish line trying to polish and tweak, refine and change, and generally make everything as perfect as it can be. The director told me the other day that the groups who are able to sustain the pace are the ones who will make it, and I definitely agree. For the band, though, it’s a tough night since we have to sustain the energy not just for one seven minute act, but for almost four hours of playing, and we go into tonight having rehearsed and performed for two tiring weeks.

It’s been a real joy to be involved in so much excellence and competition- to exhaust myself being with people who want to do something to the fullest extent of their abilities. Someone joked today that I need a T-shirt that says “Switzerland” since I help so many groups, but the truth is that I honestly do want all 16 of my acts to go to Pigskin, and work as hard as I know how to make sure that their ideas are as fully performed as possible. Tonight it will be an utter joy to rejoice with those who win and, this year especially, weep with those who who don’t. Almost a year of work went into the show for some of these groups and they know how close it will be.

Ultimately, though, it’s not about who wins or loses, but about being a part of a tradition that dates back 56 years. I got this email from an alumni chair not long ago that describes it well.

Dear Jason,

For me the best part of the our act was recognizing dance moves and ideas that stemmed from us. I didn’t quite get what you told me last year about how it is not about Pigskin. But once I saw our act this year, I understood that all the work we put in it was not for nothing. It was very satisfying to know that a piece of the three of us is still in the act. Knowing that I contributed something to the group means more to me than us going to Pigskin last year. Thanks for helping me realize that!

What a privilege to participate in such a show. Don’t miss pictures from this year!

Sing Man

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 1:50 am

The Baylor Lariat published an interview with me in today’s edition. It was fun being interviewed and I’m very happy with the results.
Check it out.

February 26, 2009

3d Printing in the Workshop.

Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 11:35 am

Oh, man, I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these!

February 25, 2009

Right or Privilege?

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 3:38 pm

If you are suffering from abdominal pain due to gallstones, who should decide whether medication or surgery would be more effective for you? The doctor who has felt your abdomen, listened to your heartbeat, and knows your drug allergies? Or the bureaucrat who got his job by telling the right joke to the right person at the right Washington cocktail party?

Whenever the government controls the medical purse strings, it will inevitably dictate who receives what health care and when. He who pays the piper calls the tune. A Canadian woman who feels a lump in her breast might wait months until the government approves her surgery and chemotherapy. In contrast, an American woman can receive the necessary treatment in days.

The fundamental problem with universal health care is the faulty premise that health care is a right. Health care is a need, not a right. Rights are freedoms of action (such as the right to free speech), not automatic claims on goods or services that must be produced by others.

There is no such thing as a right to a house, or a tonsillectomy. Nor does calling it a right make it so. In socialized medical systems, health care is never truly a right, but just another privilege dispensed at the discretion of bureaucrats.

As much as I’ve railed against the high cost of health insurance, going down the road of socialized medicine is a ludicrous solution. Only by opening up competition and deregulating the insurance industry (and thus creating more incentive for providers) will health care costs come down.

Why is it that it seems like the only people who think socialized health care is a good idea are our leaders? Why haven’t they seen the mess that other countries have made of it? Has their short term thinking overruled their long-term common sense? I guess if they had common sense they wouldn’t be in politics. Humph.

February 17, 2009

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 1:15 pm

How to build a desktop Foucalt’s Pendulum

February 13, 2009

Big Pipe

Filed under: Friends — jasony @ 9:32 am

Congrats to Matt on finishing the first draft of his Phd Thesis.

Hey, Matt, can you make the title public yet? I always love the obscurity of those high-level theses.

Charts R Us

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 9:09 am

Sing charts are finished! All 508 pages. Now for the fun part.


February 11, 2009

I Know the They

Filed under: Friends — jasony @ 11:47 pm

You wonder how common wisdom gets started? It’s cagey looking guys like the “internet marketing manager” in this video:

I don’t know if I’d trust him. He’s a little shifty looking.

Just Who Is this “Chattering Class”?

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:24 pm

I have friends who are Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, and Independent, and no matter who I talk to, they all agree: they really DO care about the “porky” amendments and additions to this monstrosity of a bill.

February 10, 2009

Super Waiter

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:39 am

Can someone lend some wisdom here? Last week I bought three things from Amazon- a set of lathe tools, tax software, and a small digital kitchen scale. All three are listed as being sold directly by Amazon and all three are listed as in stock. I chose Super Saver shipping and the ship date lists as more than three weeks away. I also ordered an individual product (separate order), also in stock, super saver, and sold by Amazon, and it shipped two days later.

If they have all three products, why not ship immediately? If they’re waiting on one product to fulfill the order, why list that everything is in stock? Can anyone offer any advice on this?

*UPDATE* A friend works with an ex-Amazon employee and she writes:

Doesn’t make sense if they were in stock – supersaver usually ships within 5 days. I would email customer service with this issue and get them to expedite. I am suprised lathe tools were in stock – maybe that is holding up the order. If you cancel the order and order the other items separate from the lathe tools I bet you get them quicker. Don’t know if that helps – but customer service could fix this for you.

February 9, 2009

Economic Value

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 4:07 pm

In our free-enterprise system, employees are valued largely in terms of what they can do. This is why teenagers fresh out of high school often go to vocational training institutes to become auto mechanics or electricians. They understand a basic principle that seems to elude social commentators, politicians and union organizers. If you want better pay, you need to learn skills that are in demand.

The blunt tools of legislation or union power can force a corporation to pay higher wages, but if employees don’t create an equal amount of additional value, there’s no net gain. All other factors remaining equal, the store will have to charge higher prices for its merchandise, and its competitive position will suffer.

This is Economics 101, but no one wants to believe it, because it tells us that a legislative or unionized quick-fix is not going to work in the long term. If you want people to be wealthier, they have to create additional wealth.

To my mind, the real scandal is not that a large corporation doesn’t pay people more. The scandal is that so many people have so little economic value. Despite (or because of) a free public school system, millions of teenagers enter the work force without marketable skills. So why would anyone expect them to be well paid?

Author Charles Platt goes undercover working for Wal-Mart and discovers some surprises. Read the whole thing.

February 8, 2009


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 12:12 pm

“The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating- in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyrrany of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.”
Anne Morriss

February 5, 2009


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:20 pm

Government creates nothing. It only has the power to tax, subsidize, and destroy. Not to create. Government can take from one and give to another, and it can tear apart people and works. One thing it can never do is create wealth. Wealth defined as the productivity of working people and a working economy. Surely, government can print money, but that is not wealth. Printing cash, or creating it in slippery ones and zero’s, is inflationary. It only devalues the money held within the real economy, making everyones holdings of less value. In other words…. printing money steals value from the cash already in the system, and is just another form of tax. It moves wealth from those who earned it to those who ‘printed it’.

Tax, or inflation. Raising taxes always attacks the economy and costs jobs. Always and every single time. Lowering taxes stimulates the economy and allows job creation. Always and every single time. When the government sticks their hand in our pocket it weakens us as a nation. When they reduce leaching we get stronger.

The two to three trillion dollars in spending last year and this? It’s a huge grab at the wealth of working people. It has to be paid for, and there are only two ways to do it since government can’t actually create wealth. They have to raise taxes, which steals wealth from working people, or they have to print money, which steals wealth from working people.

No matter how it’s done, the so called stimulus package is the hugest money grab and wealth redistribution since the formation of the Soviet Socialist Union.

via bearbicycle.

I’m surprised that more hasn’t been made about how we’re sticking the entire next generation with a huge tax bill just because we don’t want to face the immediate consequences of our spendthrift ways. It goes back to a previous post I made about how the current generation in power (the baby boomers, mostly), seem to have a bit of an impulse control issue. Mine. Now. Deal with consequences later, or better yet, push them off on somebody else. Where have all the responsible adults gone? How did we go from The Greatest Generation to The Generation of the Spoiled in so short a time?

And the most operative question: where does it say that America cannot fail or fall? So why are most of our leaders acting as if that’s true?

Sorry about being a downer, but these are the thoughts that are on my mind lately, and I haven’t heard any good answers. Believe me, I’ve looked.

I’m a Toolmonger

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 2:08 pm

One of my projects made the Toolmonger site! Yippee! I uploaded some pics to Flickr a few days ago and these guys got ahold of them and reposted them. Big smiles all around.

February 3, 2009

Two Rooms

Filed under: Games — jasony @ 10:43 am

Timewaster of the day. I’m quitting now so I can get some work done… You have been warned.

February 1, 2009

Sterling Engine

Filed under: Mad Science,Maker — jasony @ 1:55 pm

This Sterling Engine kit looks like a lot of fun.


Flickr- Should I Go Pro?

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 1:52 pm

So a submission to my readers (heh- “My Readers”. I sound so professional). With all the additions to the new iPhoto (w/Flicker integration and face recognition) I’m considering getting the pro account. It’s $25/year with no upload limits or limitations on number of photos. We currently have about 12,000 photos and will be doing some major organizing. I’m curious if those of you with Flickr accounts think the pro version is worth it.
Give me an answer in the comments or drop me a line at firstnamelastinitial at ma-c-dot-com.


New MarsEdit

Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 1:28 pm

The new version of MarsEdit blogging app has a nifty Flickr integration tool. It lets you grab photos directly from your Flickr stream and post them to your blog. Really neat. Testing it out here.


Scott, Barry, and Jason in Waco Hall. shot by Greg

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