The Big Think

October 29, 2009

Pay It Forward

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 11:19 pm

It’s nice when a great man also ends up being a good man.

The Size of Things

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 10:45 pm

Okay, this is really neat.

See You in the Funny Papers

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 1:16 pm

Cool Halloween costume, wonderfully executed.

Help, Help! I’m being Oppressed!

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Movies,Politics — jasony @ 1:06 pm

Ha

October 28, 2009

Debt Nation

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:37 pm

“What destroys individuals, ruins families, and fells nations is debt—or rather the inability to service debt, and the cultural ramifications that follow. When farming, I used to see the futility in haggling over diesel prices, trying to buy fertilizer in bulk, or using used vineyard wire—when each day we were paying hundreds in dollars in interest on a “cut-rate” 14% crop loan…

Once the conservative Bush people started talking about trillions in debt in terms of percentages of GDP rather than of real money, I feared we were done for: if a so-called conservative is doing this, I thought, what will the liberal Congress do when it gets back in power?”

via

Our nation is up to its eyeballs in debt, and its being run by people (on both sides) who have seemingly never had to deal with not having enough. Gas and food prices double? When you’re a multimillionaire congressperson, going from $2000 a year in fuel prices to $4000 is a drop in the bucket. For the average family, though, it can be the difference between eating well and not eating at all. For business owners, the prospect of higher interest rates means less borrowing to expand operations (assuming a growing customer base), or worst of all: not hiring an additional body. Then the cycle intensifies because jobs go unfilled or uncreated.

We’re planning on 10-15% interest rates over the next five to ten years (part of the reason the new truck was purchased now at only 3.6% interest). We also plan on keeping zero debt outside of our mortgage (which is locked in at a reasonable rate anyway). We’ll still get stung by higher retail prices, but at least we won’t suffer from 1970’s style interest rates that suck away money we could use for necessities.

I’m not a financial planner, but the advice to carry no consumer debt and save as much as possible is good in any market.

Raptor

Filed under: Business — jasony @ 10:26 am

F-22 Raptor makes it European debut and floors the crowd with its capability. What an amazing aircraft. Video here. Unfortunately, this will never see the battlefield as the completed aircraft was canceled just as it was almost ready for deployment (and after all the money was spent on R&D).

October 27, 2009

Behind

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 12:43 am

Gahh… after being busy with Pigskin this past week, I got almost 800 articles behind in my RSS reading. It took me hours tonight to wade through them all. So if you’re wondering why I suddenly had a half dozen or more posts here, it’s because I’ve been drinking from the fire hose.

Why I Love Her, Reason #248

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Movies — jasony @ 12:35 am

While watching this Klingon recruitment video, Erin recognized the language from across the room. Am I a lucky guy or what?

What is this, and where can I get one?

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Technology — jasony @ 12:16 am

Wingardium Leviosa!

Levitating wand.

One Letter Off

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Movies — jasony @ 12:10 am

Priceless movie posters that are One Letter Off:

movie-letter-lead.jpg

Good For Them

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:02 am

Props to the White House pool for sticking to its guns and sticking together:

Washington bureau chiefs of the five TV networks consulted and decided that none of their reporters would interview Feinberg unless Fox News was included. The pool informed Treasury that Fox News, as a member of the network pool, could not be excluded from such interviews under the rules of the pool.

The administration relented, making Feinberg available for all five pool members and Bloomberg TV.

Now as long as future administrations (Dem and Repubs) don’t try to pull this boneheaded maneuver…

October 26, 2009

Boo

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 11:26 pm

Top 10 ghost ships. spoooooky.

Z squared Scale

Filed under: Hobbies,Maker — jasony @ 10:42 pm

Worlds smallest working Model Train. 1:35,200 scale. While not really a “train” with separate cars, it’s still clever.

No Electricity Table Saw

Filed under: Maker,Woodworking — jasony @ 10:36 pm

This thing looks pretty impressive, but for $1200, I’ll keep my cabinet saw.

Saturn

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 10:16 pm

Beautiful pics of Saturn and its environs. Worth a look (especially the animated #21!)

Pigskin, Behind the Scenes

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 9:50 pm

Some pics from Pigskin 2009, which wrapped last Saturday night.

11231_700723203013_9214434_39364708_1015488_n.jpg

11231_700723188043_9214434_39364706_442831_n.jpg
I like this second shot as you just barely see the 2200 people peeking over my shoulder. I was directing the show last week and realized how surreal it is to be the point man on this. I have the best seat in the house (closest to the front, anyway), and rarely ever think of the number of people behind me. My pulse used to race and my palms got sweaty whenever the lights would go down and the curtain go up. Don’t screw up! But now, it’s a rare occasion when my heart rate gets above 90 unless we’re really cooking on a song. Hyper aware? Always. Nervous? Not in many years. Funny how we can adapt.

Thanks to Josh for the pics.

Petman

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 9:14 pm

Our robot overlords cometh.

Can Sci Fi Movies Be Cool?

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 10:57 am

John Scalzi answers the burning question.

October 22, 2009

Earth and Jupiter

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 11:52 am

Cool shot of Earth and Jupiter in the same frame. (h/t Scott)

October 21, 2009

Fairness

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 5:19 pm

A conversation between me and a friend about this article by Mickey Kaus.

I continue to be in awe of the contortions that many left-leaning advocates will go through to implicate Fox in some punishable right wing conspiracy when the majority of news organizations lean just as heavily (or moreso) to the left. It’s been breathtaking to witness defenders of “real” journalists totally ignore the evidence of the Jayson Blair’s, Dan Rathers, and countless other examples of the MSM defending the bulwarks of liberalism while at the same time come up with tortured arguments that see Fox as being worthy of censure. It’s like they live in a universe where they can choose or ignore facts at their leisure.

I don’t watch Fox (or much TV, for that matter), but the occasional story that I read on Fox News’ websites seems generally to present well researched data with at least an attempt at fairness (excluding their opinion stuff, which I think some people disingenuously view as “news” and then attempt to paint Fox News with the brush of bias). This past week I have read many columns from a few lonely newspeople who attempt to defend Fox’s right to continue to publish. The gist of what I’ve seen boils down to this: most of the stuff on Fox is well researched news done by professionals (who are every bit as accredited by J-schools as CNN’s reporters, and they take just as many pains -and occasionally more- to have a fair hearing of the other side of an issue as the MSNBC/CNN/ABC’s of the world. Just because the current administration doesn’t like the heat doesn’t mean that they should try and get their critics silenced (or merely ignored). For me, it’s illustrative to imagine a world where the Bush administration declared that CNN wasn’t a “real” news organization because they didn’t like their slant on the news. Can you imagine the justified carnage and rage following such an announcement? So why is the current administration getting a pass? Because the current MSM believes in it’s agenda. The MSM damns itself by silent complicity and implicates itself in the very sin it attempts to expose in FOX.

It’s sobering to me that Mickey Kaus’s article can essentially claim “yes, our side does it, too, but FOX needs to be punished because they’re not doing it… independently“, and then offer for evidence nothing more than his “faith” that the whole network must be in the tank for the Republicans because it’s owned by Roger Ailes- and not get the irony that one can make the same argument about CNN because it’s owned by hard leftists. I think he needs to go back and re-read the First Amendment. Doesn’t say anything in there about political parties or owners’ biases. If I recall my history, at the time of the Constitutions’ writing most papers were nakedly partisan- and the Framers still felt it important to protect their right to be heard. They knew that a messy, occasionally over-reaching media that was free of political pressure was better than a news organ of the state, which is where many people fear this current precedent could lead.

Further thought: I see these current battles as ultimately hurting the left-leaning media a lot more than they do FOX (that is, in addition to FOX’s 20% viewership increase in the past week). Much has been said about the MSM being biased while they claim impartiality. There seems to be the feeling that if only the MSM would come out from behind the disguise and say “YES! We’re Liberal! We have an agenda!” then somehow it would be okay, because at least everyone would know the bias existed. As nice as it would be to have some truth in advertising (“CNN… the most liberal name in news” ha!), I think the current issue w/r/t FOX makes it even less likely that the other networks will “come out of the closet”. They will continue to claim that they’re unbiased and non partisan -you know, unlike that FOX outfit. With contrary evidence on display nightly, and the ease of getting original source information from the Internet, the toothpaste was left the tube a long time ago. But if CNN, et al, suddenly confessed to bias tomorrow they would have an awfully hard time supporting a censure of FOX while at the same time admitting to bias themselves.

The greater danger in this is the precedent it sets. Do we really want the President of the United States to decree that a certain news organization “isn’t really news” and should be ignored or reduced? What happens in 4 or 8 years when the shoe is on the other foot? Do we want to live in a country where the dominant political power has control over which media outlets get heard? There’s a very good reason for the protections of the first amendment, and I am ashamed that reporters in the WH press pool aren’t up in arms right now. This is a GIANT precedent and they’d have to be stupid not to see the future implications of it, but for some reason (fear? complacency? unwillingness to make waves and lose a cherry gig?), they’re remaining shamefully silent (with a few good exceptions, of course).

You probably won’t be surprised at any of my feelings, or at this: even though I’m appalled at how FOX is being treated, I still hate the fact that even they are biased (and yes, they seem to lean Right- just as much as the others lean Left). I just want the whole bunch of them to shut up and quit trying to relive the 60’s with cherry picked stories and a rather obvious desire to effect change through advocacy journalism. Shut up and REPORT THE FACTS. And get off my lawn.

But I had the ultimate vote when I shut them all off a few years ago. If anything, I feel more informed because I’m going to the raw(er) sources and trying to determine what happened in issues without the intervening “interpretation” of any one news organization.

The fact that I’ve been forced to find the news for myself is perhaps the most damning thing of all.

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