The Big Think

January 29, 2010

That’s One Smart Bear

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 12:34 pm

My friend Jason Cohen has some good thoughts on entrepreneurship and feeling like a fraud. Hey, that quote at the top looks familiar.

Repeat to Yourself

Filed under: Science,Space — jasony @ 12:44 am

“It’s just a machine” *sniff!*

January 28, 2010

Hand it Over

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:08 am

Over the past three decades, it has become routine in the United States for state, local, and federal governments to seize the property of people who were never even charged with, much less convicted of, a crime. Nearly every year, according to Justice Department statistics, the federal government sets new records for asset forfeiture. And under many state laws, the situation is even worse: State officials can seize property without a warrant and need only show “probable cause” that the booty was connected to a drug crime in order to keep it, as opposed to the criminal standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead of being innocent until proven guilty, owners of seized property all too often have a heavier burden of proof than the government officials who stole their stuff.

Municipalities have come to rely on confiscated property for revenue. Police and prosecutors use forfeiture proceeds to fund not only general operations but junkets, parties, and swank office equipment. A cottage industry has sprung up to offer law enforcement agencies instruction on how to take and keep property more efficiently.

via Reason magazine

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 9:42 am

The Accidental Music Lesson.

January 27, 2010

Geeking out on the new iPad

Filed under: Apple,Macintosh — jasony @ 1:43 pm

Want. Will Have.

Economic Rap

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:47 am

January 26, 2010

I’m All Thumbs

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 12:33 am

Q: What’s worse than smashing your thumb with a hammer?
A: Two minutes later, smashing the same thumb in the same spot, with the same hammer.


(signed- Jason, the temporarily one-thumbed musician)

January 25, 2010

Big Tent

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 3:03 pm

You want a big tent? It’s fiscal conservatism. The people are overwhelmingly in favor of it.

You offer that, you follow through on it, and you get the Republicans, the moderates, and a sizable chunk of disaffected Democrats.

Everything else is beside the point right now. You lose the fiscal conservative fight now and allow the United States to head deeper into Statism, and it’s over. If the government controls healthcare, it will “[redefine] the relationship between the citizen and the state in a way that hands all the advantages to statists.” You can kiss freedom goodbye in the longterm.

So instead of utterly failing our future generations, leaving them to toil under the yoke of an obscenely powerful government, we should make our stand now. Embrace fiscal conservatism. Leave the rest to federalism.

It’s easy. It’s a no-brainer. It’s even Constitutional. People are sick of the spending, sick of the debt, sick of the bailouts, sick of the handouts, sick of the back room deals, sick of the taxpayer funded bribes, sick of the bureaucrats. They want unyielding, unapologetic fiscal conservatism.

Fiscal conservatism is the big tent.

via Freeman Hunt (great name)


Filed under: Disclosure,Woodworking — jasony @ 12:02 am

Just had an utterly fantastic and exhausting weekend building props in the shop. We build a very cool hanging prop, and second prop that was rather clever and neat, and a huge prop on giant wooden wheels. I can’t say what they are, but I will say that they took quite a bit of thought and SketchUp design (not to mention lumber). We finally finished tonight after a solid 14 hour shop day with a crazy 11th hour construction of a jerry-rigged cradle to hold the props securely in the back of the U-Haul trailer. It was crazy! My neighbors HATE me right now for running the table saw at 10pm, but we got it done. If you go to the show this year, come see me at the rail and I’ll give you the backstage tour and show you all of the amazing props.

January 23, 2010

Middle Class

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:25 am

It’s clear that the middle class is the great enemy of collectivism. Only they have the combination of voting power, money, and economic self-interest to see the growth of government as undesirable, and provide effective resistance. They generally view their interactions with government in a negative light – they’ve all spent time in the Department of Motor Vehicles mausoleum, spent hours wrestling with tax forms, or been slapped with a traffic citation they don’t think they deserved. They understand the inefficiency and emotional instability of government, and instinctively resent its intrusion into their lives. A health-care takeover is the best chance collectivists will ever have of persuading the middle class to vote itself into chains… but for the better part of a century, they’ve been able to hear the hammers of the State ringing on the metal of those chains, in the forges of taxation and regulation…

The middle class is frustrated because they understand the basic concept of fiscal responsibility, and they know they – and their children – will be expected to pay for these titanic solutions…

The President says “I have every interest in seeing a unified country solving big problems.” The rest of us have an interest in being allowed to pursue our individual solutions to those problems, according to the liberties our Constitution says belong to us as absolutely as our souls. We can see the wreckage of those “unified” solutions strewn through our past, and littering the rest of the world.

Our frustration is born of intelligence and moral strength, not stubborn blindness.

read the whole thing.

Understand that my opposition is not to a black president, or to a democratic president, or anything so shallow or stereotypical. It is also decidedly not based in ignorance of the issues, or a backward, “flyover-country” view of America. My opposition is to a worldview that says “we’re from the government and we’re here to take care of you”. It is a visceral, responsible opposition to a historically, demonstrably, provably irresponsible government (of both parties) that long ago relinquished the moral authority to be trusted with the public purse. It is an opposition built on the simple high-school skill of following a descending line on a graph and saying “we can not afford to do this”. It is a responsible, adult, opposition to a comment I saw recently online that said “even if it bankrupts America, it is our moral obligation to provide every person within our borders with health insurance”. Oh really? Balanced your checkbook lately? What’s the state of your credit report? Even if it bankrupts America? I’ve never heard a rational response to the obvious question: what then?

As in all things, moderation going forward is the key. Neither a wholesale conversion to collectivism nor a total abandonment of the less fortunate will solve our fiscal and societal problems- either extreme will make our problems worse. But we must- must– maintain the fiscal health of our country if we have any hope of staying strong. Or even staying together. America is not an eternal guarantee.

January 22, 2010

Why So Serious?

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Movies — jasony @ 9:28 pm

Quite possibly the funniest candid celeb shot ever.


January 21, 2010

Buy it Or Else

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:00 am

The Supreme Court has conceded many powers to the national government. But allowing it to force individuals to spend their own money to acquire a commodity they don’t want would go beyond its established boundaries.

“Never in the history of the United States has the federal government ever required someone to engage in an economic activity with a private party,” Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett has said. If the Supreme Court goes along, he said, “there’s pretty much nothing Congress can’t do.”

full story

January 20, 2010

The Crystal Cave

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 9:28 pm

122 degrees F. and 100% humidity make special suits and breathing gear mandatory, but these crystal structure would make it worth it. Beautiful!

January 15, 2010

Transcriber II: The Transcribening

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 11:02 am

I just finished the big transcription I was hired to do. What fun! Here are a few sample pages. This was all picked off the original track by ear and rearranged for the available instrumentation. I just wish I could hear the final result!




January 14, 2010

Rocket Man

Filed under: Mad Science,Maker — jasony @ 12:22 pm

Steve Jurvetson on his awesome rocket hobby. Don’t miss the 3 minute TED talk short at the bottom. Fantastic pictures.

January 13, 2010


Filed under: Music — jasony @ 9:04 am

I will occasionally get calls to do transcriptions of CD’s for musicals or other types of live performances. I got one not long ago for a high school musical program. The group is doing a big number from Guys and Dolls but the score they have from the publisher doesn’t have a big dance section that’s on the live musical CD, so the choir director hired me to listen to the CD and transcribe/arrange the section for the orchestral forces he’s using.

It’s a ton of fun, and I’ve been at it since about 3am (another insomniac night, fortunately not wasted). What I do is that I listen very closely to the original CD and figure out what’s going on in the orchestra. Who is playing (tenor or alto sax, clarinet, trumpets, etc)? How many parts are there? What are the harmonies? I pick out all these parts by ear and then slowly build the score. I have to alter things as I go since the orchestra I’m writing for isn’t necessarily the one that’s on the CD (for instance, the one I’m writing for doesn’t have a baritone saxophone even though it’s on the CD). So there’s a fair bit of rearranging and recontextualizing parts. I have to make decisions on who gets what notes and how the different parts fit together. I also have to pull out the vocal parts and make a piano reduction of everything that makes sense so the choir director can rehearse with the choir when the orchestra isn’t there.

Hundreds of years ago, trainee musicians used to copy the scores of the masters to learn how to write music. What instruments did they write for? What were the common doublings (having, say, a flute and oboe play an octave apart)? What were the normal and out-of-bounds ranges on all the instruments? This was great training for when young musicians started writing their own stuff. What I’m doing is the modern equivalent but with a hefty dose of ear training built in: take a CD and break it down into component parts and recreate it in score form. There’s also the aforementioned decision making process of readapting what’s on the CD to the limited or different orchestral pallet. It’s a fun challenge that I really enjoy.

Next time you listen to a movie score or radio song, concentrate on what’s going on in the background. What instruments are playing? When do they play? When do they drop out? Are there patterns? Try to hum the main melody (easy). Now try to hum any countermelody (harder). Now try to hum what are called non-diatonic notes- the passing tones that don’t strictly belong to the key, but they’re in there anyway. Now write it down in musical notation so that other musicians can recreate it seamlessly. Fun, right?

It takes patience and time (In the last 5 hours I’ve managed to create 37 measures with a medium sized orchestra- about 45 seconds), not to mention a hefty dose of music theory and years of intent listening, but in the end it’s very rewarding to be able to recreate a full score from a recording. I’ve been doing it for so long I can pretty much recreate anything that I can hear. What a fun skill!

And this is what I do.

January 12, 2010


Filed under: Games,Humor and Fun,Mad Science,Maker,Movies — jasony @ 9:38 pm

January 11, 2010


Filed under: Music — jasony @ 10:57 am

Don’t forget, Sing 2010 tickets go on sale on January 22nd (and sell out within a few hours). Make plans to buy them on the day if you want to see the show this year!

January 7, 2010

Wrong Place, Time

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 9:08 am

Hiroshima/Nagasaki survivor passes away.

Mr. Yamaguchi, as a 29-year-old engineer for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was on a business trip in Hiroshima when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. He was getting off a streetcar when the “Little Boy” device detonated above Hiroshima.

Mr. Yamaguchi said he was less than 2 miles away from ground zero. His eardrums were ruptured and his upper torso was burned by the blast, which destroyed most of the city’s buildings and killed 80,000 people.

Mr. Yamaguchi spent the night in a Hiroshima bomb shelter and returned to his hometown of Nagasaki the following day, according to interviews he gave over the years. The second bomb, known as “Fat Man,” was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, killing 70,000 people there.

Mr. Yamaguchi was in his Nagasaki office, telling his boss about the Hiroshima blast, when “suddenly the same white light filled the room,” he said in an interview last March with The Independent newspaper.

“I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me from Hiroshima,” he said.

“I could have died on either of those days,” Mr. Yamaguchi said in an August interview with the Mainichi Daily News. “Everything that follows is a bonus.”

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 12:04 am

NASA holds a contest to design the mission patch for the final space shuttle mission.

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