The Big Think

September 29, 2009


Filed under: Science — jasony @ 1:49 pm

Superheavy Element 114 is finally deemed unstable after long research. Bummer. Scientists had hoped that, after element 113, the very unstable massive elements might start to become stable again. Guess not.


Filed under: Science — jasony @ 10:47 am

Maybe it’s not a good idea to get vaccinated for the flu after all. Sheesh.

September 28, 2009

Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 6:05 pm

I know Windows is awful. Everyone knows Windows is awful. Windows is like the faint smell of piss in a subway: it’s there, and there’s nothing you can do about it. OK, OK: I know other operating systems are available. But their advocates seem even creepier, snootier and more insistent than Mac owners. The harder they try to convince me, the more I’m repelled. To them, I’m a sheep. And they’re right. I’m a helpless, stupid, lazy sheep. I’m also a masochist. And that’s why I continue to use Windows – horrible Windows – even though I hate every second of it. It’s grim, it’s slow, everything’s badly designed and nothing really works properly: using Windows is like living in a communist bloc nation circa 1981. And I wouldn’t change it for the world, because I’m an abject bloody idiot and I hate myself, and this is what I deserve: to be sentenced to Windows for life.

That’s why Windows works for me. But I’d never recommend it to anybody else, ever. This puts me in line with roughly everybody else in the world. No one has ever earnestly turned to a fellow human being and said, “Hey, have you considered Windows?” Not in the real world at any rate.

By the way, have you seen the hip new Windows 7 infomercial?

How to Truck 66 200,000-Pound Antennas to 16,000 Feet | Wired Science |

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 10:07 am

How to Truck 66 200,000-Pound Antennas to 16,000 Feet: “”

(Via .)

September 26, 2009

Promises, Promises (UPDATED)

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 5:46 pm

President Obama promised on the campaign trail that he would have the most transparent administration in history. As part of this commitment, he said that the public would have five days to look online and find out what was in the bills that came to his desk before he signed them.

Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have refused to allow the final text of their health care bill to be posted online prior to their vote on it. The Democrats claim it’s too technically difficult; in reality, of course, they don’t want voters to have an opportunity to see the bill and react to it before it becomes a fait accompli. The Democrats have brought a lack of transparency to Washington that may be unprecedented in our history. link

Look, I hate doing this, because I know that many of my friends are on the other side of the aisle, and I’ve said before that my friendships are more important than a politician in Washington who will never know my name, but when the most major piece of legislation to be written in the last generation is hidden from the public- in direct contravention of a promise by our President- I can’t stay quiet. I would ask “who do they think they are?!?!”, but by their actions the people in DC have shown exactly who they think they are: our betters who know better than us and brook no interference.

Somewhere, someone did a cost/benefit analysis of hiding the legislation until it becomes law, and they decided that the public anger at being left out of the loop is worse than the anger they would face if we knew what was in the bill.

Think about that.

They would rather face the rabid fury of a public denied a period of commenting on major legislation (something that was promised to us by a candidate), than face the anger that would result if the public got a chance to read the bill before it becomes law. Makes you wonder what’s in this thing…


it’s been leaked online. Now the congress gets the worst of BOTH worlds. The anger at being left out of the loop AND the fury of knowing what’s in it.

Tar. Feather. Rail.

Friend Daniel points out in a comment (sorry for the wonky comment system):

Gotta point out that the Senate Finance Committee not posting the final text of their bill has nothing whatsoever to do with Obama’s campaign promise. He’s neither the president of the senate nor the chair of the finance committee. I don’t have much of an opinion over whether or not they should have the text posted–probably so, but I don’t know what standard practice is for the committees. I do know that Congress as a whole has already sought an unprecedented (at least in recent memory) level of input from the public on the subject of health care reform, so trying to paint this as evidence of unparalleled lack of transparancy is pretty unfair, I think. And at any rate, we’re still a long way from a bill that Obama could even post as proposed legislation. The finance committee’s version has to be reconciled with the other Senate committees’ versions, which will then be cussed and discussed by the Senate as a whole, which will then be voted on, which will then be reconciled with the House’s version, which will then and only then be sent to the president. There is plllleeeeennnty of time for public comment and outrage. And if at that time he fails to provide his promised five days of opportunity for public review and comment, by all means call him out as a hypocrit. But until then, criticisms such as this one are mischaracterizations, and quite unfair.

And keep the political stuff coming. No need to apologize for it. I suspect that most of your friends on the opposite side of the political aisle are also grownups who don’t need to have their own opinions reflected back at them from all directions…;)

Fair point about congress not being responsible for the president’s campaign promises. I stand corrected. I do note, though, that on the eleven occasions that the President did have a chance to post the text of a bill before he signed it, he only did so once. Here’s hoping he allows the text to be posted before he does this one.

As to most of my friends being grownups, well… I know better, but that’s a good thing. 🙂

September 25, 2009


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 3:25 pm

“A human lifespan is less than a thousand months long. You need to make some time to think how to live it.”

AC Grayling, philosopher

September 24, 2009


Filed under: Humor and Fun,Movies — jasony @ 8:56 am

Funny movie poster mashups. Pretty hilarious stuff.


September 22, 2009


Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 9:57 pm

So I spent a few wonderful hours in the cool shop today watching the rain while I worked on the sharpener I described in a previous post. I got my order of hardware in from McMaster-Carr and went on to the middle steps of the project (installing thrust bearings and collet sleeves, etc). One of the steps had me cutting sections of the main drive shaft from the long 36″ single steel shaft I got in the mail. Did I mention that it’s steel? Precision steel? HARDENED precision steel? That sucker was just about the hardest thing I’ve ever had to cut through in my life. It was only 1/2″ thick but took the better part of an hour to cut a single section out with a hacksaw. I finally thought of my Dremel tool with a cutoff wheel but this didn’t really speed things up. It just saved my forearm from giving out with the saw.

I had to cut TWO short shafts for the sharpener (see pic in previous post for the shafts). I still have to cut three very short pieces for guide pins. Sheesh, I can’t believe how hard that thing is.

The sharpener is coming together very nicely, though it is somewhat difficult to keep all the precision bearings all nice and lined up. I’ve got both shafts and pulleys installed and it’s starting to look like something! It’ll be cool to get to use it when it’s done.

Stranger than We Can Imagine

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 11:03 am

Saturn has mountains in its rings.

September 19, 2009

YouTube – ooops I did it again.

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Music — jasony @ 10:25 am

Britney Spears’ “oops I did it again” done polka style. Played on flaming tuba.

My day is now complete:

September 18, 2009

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:37 am

If the current government healthcare plan passes, many small businesses are set to cancel insurance to their employees and opt to pay the cheaper fee to the Fed. Thus further eroding the health care market.

Of course, it’s a small step for the government to simply raise the fine to where it would be less painful for businesses to pay for insurance instead of the fine, but do we really want a system where the federal government raises their penalty fees to be higher than health insurance premiums? This helps business how?

I forsee some unexpected consequences.

Cough Cough

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 10:27 am

The deadly black London Fog, and 7 other weird weather phenomenon.


Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 12:03 am

From the “things I didn’t know dept”:

Keanu Reeves gave away 50 million british pounds (his salary from Matrix II and III) to the costume and special FX depts on those films. Way to recognize the little people, Keanu. Thanks.

September 17, 2009

James Krenov 1920-2009

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 9:55 am


American/Swedish woodworking legend James Krenov passed away yesterday at the age of 79. Krenov is responsible for some of the most influential woodworking design of the 20th century. Along with Sam Maloof, the woodworking world has lost two irreplaceable giants this year.

Krenov’s unique style may not appeal to everyone, but his philosophy of working with the wood instead of against it inspired many woodworkers (including me) to really pay attention to the wood grain and color. I picked up his book With Wakened Hands a few years ago and it opened my eyes to areas of design I never knew existed.

Krenov’s work is very distinctive and some would say spare. He didn’t stray very far from his famous “Krenov cabinet”, but that just allowed him to spend a lifetime perfecting this beautiful design. Like good Japanese calligraphy that espouses the philosophy of just enough, Krenov’s cabinets compliment the wood in a balance of color, line, and grain that borders on perfection. He was an artist that knew how to work in his style very, very well, and he will be missed.


More examples of Krenov’s beautiful work are here.

Say Hello to my Little Friend

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 7:50 am

Scientists photograph a single atom’s electron cloud.

September 16, 2009


Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 9:08 pm

I was wandering through Lowes the other day and spotted the most recent issue of Shop Notes magazine. It’s a great woodworking mag that always manages to have one or two “must build” projects. The other bonus is that it has NO advertising (it’s only about 50 pages each issue, but they make every page count).

I ended up taking one look at this issue and adding it to my basket. The cover article was this:


I’ve been looking for a good way to sharpen my chisels and turning tools for several years and hadn’t found one until now. They sell $200-400 solutions that do effectively the same thing as the shop-built one on the cover here. The good news is that this clever build lets you get a razor sharp edge on your tools for less than fifty bucks (and far less if you can scrounge some of the weirder parts). I spent a couple hours in the shop this afternoon starting on the main box for the thing. I have to order a few parts from the inestimable McMaster-Carr – mainly two pulleys and a couple of thrust bearings- but the rest of it can be made from plywood and screws that I already have around the shop. After the huge entertainment center project it’s nice to be working on something I can finish with comparatively little effort.

September 15, 2009

Right to Repair

Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 8:59 pm

“Since the advent of congressionally mandated computers in vehicles more than 15 years ago (for emissions), cars have evolved into complex machines that are no longer just mechanical. Computers now monitor and control most systems in the car from brakes to tire pressure and all the electronics and engine fluids… [and] car manufacturers continue to hold back on some of the information that your mechanic needs in order to properly repair your car and reset your codes and warning lights… Massachusetts is now poised to solve this problem and car-driving consumers should pay attention this fall when the Massachusetts Legislature takes up landmark legislation that would force manufacturers to respect the right of consumers to access their own repair information. The legislation, known as Right to Repair, is seen by car manufacturers as a threat to the lucrative service business in their dealerships and they are massing their lobbyists on Beacon Hill in an effort to defeat it.”

The right to repair our own vehicles? Sounds fair.


We All Blink Together

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 5:54 pm


Synchronised blinking stops viewers missing the action: “”

(Via .)

September 14, 2009

Edge of Space

Filed under: Mad Science,Maker,Science,Space — jasony @ 11:06 am

Two MIT students shoot pics from the edge of space using off-the-shelf stuff. And a budget of only $150. Cool!

September 13, 2009

In praise of the sci-fi corridor

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Movies — jasony @ 6:30 pm

In praise of the sci-fi corridor: “”

(Via .)

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