The Big Think

June 5, 2009

Quoth

Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 9:56 pm

Freedom is a terrible gift, and the theory behind all dictatorships is that “the people” do not want freedom. They want bread and circuses. They want workman’s compensation and fringe benefits and TV. Give up your free will, give up your freedom to make choices, listen to the expert, and you will have three cars in your garage, steak on the table, and you will no longer have to suffer the agony of choice.

Madeline L’Engle, Walking on Water, p103

h/t Sean

King Gandalf

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 9:08 pm

Ian Mckellan plays King Lear. And you can watch the whole thing online!

Don’t miss the interview with Sir Ian himself, especially don’t miss MILK LIVERED MAN!

Interview with The Man

Filed under: Maker,Science — jasony @ 8:28 pm

PopSci interviews Dean Kamen.

“I take vacations all the time,” he says. “Vacations from the Slingshot to work on the Stirling, vacations from the Stirling to work on the prosthetic arm, vacations from any of that for FIRST. But if you mean going to some island and lying on the beach all day doing nothing, no, I have never done that. If you could point to one thing I’m working on that is not so important that I can spare to waste a week, well then, I’ll go on vacation. But you see, those are the projects that I’ve already given up. What’s left — these are too important to waste even a minute.”

Time. It’s the only thing Kamen fears running out of. It’s why he can’t take a day off. It’s why he can’t stop working until he is too exhausted to think. It’s why, only in the wee hours of the night, after too much wine and too little sleep, will Kamen the preacher, the salesman, the uncompromising moralist finally take a vacation from the hard sell. In the comfort of his hexagonal wine cellar, with its redwood panels and thousands of aging vintages, Kamen turns into an ordinary man, with fears unconquered and dreams unrealized and an almost obsessive awareness of his own mortality, heightened by the recent loss of his father to cancer.

“Other people have peace because I think maybe they just don’t think about it — the ticking clock. But it’s always there with me. I know that I have this finite amount of time, and there’s so much to do, so much in this world that needs fixing,” he says. “What if I don’t have time to finish all this before . . .” The London Symphony (playing the Moody Blues) fills the silence of a long pause. “I can’t cheat death,” he says finally. He begins to talk with his hands. “I’m not a religious man,” Kamen says, “but I have a kind of faith. Faith that these kids will be able to finish what we’ve started.”

Kamen has no trouble justifying his relentlessness. Every spring, he sees the thousands of kids massing at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, home to the FIRST championships, and thinks, One of these kids is going to cure cancer someday. “We’re playing with the laws of large numbers here,” he says. “You’ve got to look at the probability of outcomes.” In fact, the formula is pretty simple: The more problem-solvers you have, the more problems they will solve.

Read the whole interview with the guy who Sean jokingly calls my man-crush.

Your Hooray! Zone

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 8:15 pm

Lifehacker on finding the work that you love.

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Weirdly Interesting

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 7:03 pm

School lunches from around the world.

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