The Big Think

July 31, 2012

Election Math

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:00 am

This is not meant to be a partisan post (I make enough of those already). It applies equally to both parties. I’m just curious about something.

Today the President is going to a Manhattan fundraiser that will be attended by 60 people who each pay $40,000 per plate (man, that’s gotta be some great chicken!). To accomplish this fundraiser, President Obama will fly in Air Force 1, with an AF1 backup, military escorts, a full motorcade (with its own air transport), local security, Secret Service, local preparation, traffic shutdown (with the accompanying negative economic impact), as well as all the other expenses associated with the difficult process of transporting a president from place to place. Those costs will be, as far as I know, at taxpayer expense. In return, the president’s campaign will receive $240,000 in donations.

So I’m wondering what the net income after expenses is? Is this a case of spending $500,000 in taxpayer money to gain $250,000 in campaign donations for one party? Even if the trip is done on the cheap and only costs $100,000 or so (a number I have a hard time believing is much lower), doesn’t it seem wasteful?

Again, I’m not trying to say that the Pres. is doing anything that other president’s haven’t done. I’ve just always thought that there’s something wrong with traveling around at taxpayer expense in order to raise money for one candidate’s campaign.

I’m honestly open to input here and can’t figure this out. If the campaigns pay for travel expenses (which means, ultimately, that the attendees of these shindigs are paying for it indirectly), then I see no problem here. If presidents come up with flimsy “official” reasons to attend a specific location and just happen to have a fundraiser there at the same time, that just seems transparently lame. If they’re charging taxpayers and pocketing the cash they make, that seems rather unethical and something the government might have a problem with if it were done in private industry.

July 30, 2012


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:30 am

“It may seem strange that anyone could look around the pornography-saturated, fertility-challenged, family-breakdown-plagued West and see a society menaced by a repressive puritanism. But it’s clear that this perspective is widely and sincerely held.

It would be refreshing, though, if it were expressed honestly, without the “of course we respect religious freedom” facade.

If you want to fine Catholic hospitals for following Catholic teaching, or prevent Jewish parents from circumcising their sons, or ban Chick-fil-A in Boston, then don’t tell religious people that you respect our freedoms. Say what you really think: that the exercise of our religion threatens all that’s good and decent, and that you’re going to use the levers of power to bend us to your will.

There, didn’t that feel better? Now we can get on with the fight.”

Ross Douthat


Filed under: Hobbies,Maker — jasony @ 8:13 am

Wow, a real RC firebreathing dragon. Stunning craftsmanship.

July 29, 2012


Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 9:28 pm

Hilarious Memos from the Desk of Nick Fury

July 28, 2012


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 9:29 pm

“I never learned anything while I was talking.” – Larry King

July 26, 2012


Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 4:42 pm

Pixar’s Story Rules, Illustrated in Lego

Future Tech

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 4:11 pm

The world’s first 3D-printed gun | ExtremeTech

Cat’s out of the bag.

July 24, 2012

Piano Guys

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 2:06 pm

Road Trip

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Travel — jasony @ 10:28 am

A 23 year, 500,000 kilometer epic road trip. 71 years old and still going.

July 20, 2012

Carpentry of a Different Scale

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 11:41 pm

I recently built and installed a door. Nothing too unusual about that as I’ve done it several times around the house. But this one is a dutch door (the kind that have a top and bottom that separate and swing independently). It’s drying now but when it’s cured I’ll paint it red.

I built the door frame that fits the rough opening very tightly but just in case there are leak I caulked the opening around the frame to keep out drafts. I installed door trim too (after I stained it Dark Walnut, of course) and did all the molding work. Oh, and I’m working on the door handle now as well. Overall I’m very pleased with it, especially that the whole thing took me only an hour and a half.

Oh, did I mention that the whole thing… door, frame, trim, molding, handle, etc… is only and inch and a half tall? Just wait until you see the rest of the house.


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:31 pm

This effort to interpret everything through a political and partisan lens – to reduce everything to a political and partisan interpretation – is itself a disfigurement of reality. Life is a complicated and endlessly variegated thing. Politics has a role in all our lives; but for it to play such a dominant role in people’s imagination is surely not a healthy thing. And for people to immediately and instinctively take every human event – no matter how tragic and how painful — and place it in the maw of our politics is wrong and even repulsive. It exploits people’s sorrow and grief in order to score cheap political points and frame stupid political argument.


July 19, 2012


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 7:20 am

“He didn’t invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did he?”


“Rearden. He didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything.”

She said, puzzled, “But the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn’t anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?”

And people say Atlas Shrugged isn’t applicable today.

July 18, 2012

No, Thanks. I’ll Just Hide Behind This… Everything.

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 9:12 pm

Five Men Agree To Stand Directly Under An Exploding Nuclear Bomb : Krulwich Wonders…

Mystery Solved

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 9:02 pm

Mysterious ‘Pioneer Anomaly’ Chalked Up to Heat

Been following this for years. Cool that they seem to have settled on an answer.

July 17, 2012

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 6:13 pm


July 16, 2012


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 10:01 pm

“Pessimists can be such bores, and it’s lazy to believe the worst. What’s the line about Scaramouche: he was born with the gift of laughter and the sense that the world was mad. I don’t think that’s the best modus vivendi, but it beats teaching yourself the curse of scowling and the sense that it’s all a grind to be endured until the tomb gapes wide, and the only respectable intellectual pose is a Menckenian disdain for those who refuse to see how shallow, small, vacuous and contemptible they are.”

James Lileks


Filed under: Current Reading — jasony @ 4:33 pm

Reading Shakespeare Enhances Your Ability to Think

July 12, 2012

Ad Astra

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 1:06 pm

Branson’s spaceship steals the spotlight at airshow.

Branson’s company has what I think is one of the great slogans of business history:

“Because space… is Virgin territory”. Brilliant.


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:26 pm

A fascinating interview with attorney Randy Barnett.

July 11, 2012

Lego Madness

Filed under: Games,Hobbies,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 8:10 pm

Half-size Rolls Royce Trent 1000 replica is the most intricate Lego structure ever made

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