The Big Think

June 29, 2013

Up, Up and Away!

Filed under: Disclosure,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 8:39 pm

Jason’s Hang Gliding Adventure.

Special thanks to Erin for the gift!

What a wonderful wife.
What a wonderful life.

12 Tones

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 9:49 am

This is just brilliant. On the long side but worth it.
H/T Barry for the link.

June 28, 2013

Up Up and Away

Filed under: Disclosure,Hobbies,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 8:35 am

Last Christmas Erin bought me a day of hang gliding lessons. Today I get to go! Thus fulfilling a life list item I’ve had since I was twelve years old and biking ten miles to the library every few weeks to check out the book on hang gliding. That book led me to eventually get my pilot’s license when I was in my mid-twenties. But as much as I love flying powered planes, I’ve always had a particular fascination for hanging under a big kite and drifting through the sky.

These first lessons will probably be more of the “run down the hill holding the contraption and try not to fall/crash” but I should still get a little air. I can’t wait!

Oh, and courtesy Patrick:


June 27, 2013

We Live in the Future

Filed under: Education,Science — jasony @ 2:30 pm

The power of modern medicine. This is really amazing and worth the 4:00.

Pieces of the Puzzle

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:05 am

Gay Marriage Is Just One Piece of the Puzzle:

“It’s worth taking a step back from the emotions and technical details of all of these events to ask about the broader trend they point to. Superficially, they point to a schizophrenic public: leaning pro-life; increasingly in favor of gay marriage; divided on gun control but unwilling to pull the trigger, so to speak, on significantly tightened gun laws. But on a deeper level, these all look like examples of the biggest cultural-political trend in America: a response to the growing complexity of 21st century life that revives individualism and states’ rights.

The federal legislature, the Court, and state governments, both blue and red, seem to have adopted this principle of devolution as a strategy for dealing with the most politically toxic issues of our time. America is too big and its citizens are too diverse for one-size-fits-all solutions to some of our culture war issues. Some traditional American views seem newly relevant as we cope with these issues: individuals should be allowed as much freedom as is consistent with their not harming others; wherever possible, states should be free to settle their affairs on their own terms.

Some 18th-century ideas are proving surprisingly useful in 21st-century America.

There seems to be a growing support for a reemergence of strong State’s Rights on both sides of the aisle- the way the country was originally designed to operate. Don’t like the laws in Texas? Instead of shouting your opponents down, you can know that some other state is receptive to your views that will welcome you with open arms. Hate the political/economic/cultural climate of your current state? Don’t worry, in the vast experimental laboratory of the 50 states, you can surely find one that is closer to how you want to live your life.

There is little reason to have 50 separate states if every single thing under the sun is going to be determined by half a thousand people sharing a single culture and cocooned together n the east coast. Do you Vive la différence? Then let the différence la vive.

June 26, 2013

Indoctrinate U

Filed under: Education,Politics — jasony @ 9:09 am

California Schools to Train Kids to Sell ObamaCare:

“The Los Angeles Unified School District will use a state grant to train teens to promote ObamaCare to family members. Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, announced grants of $37 million on May 14 to promote the nationally unpopular law.

LAUSD will receive $990,000. The district listed as a primary outcome for its project, ‘Teens trained to be messengers to family members.’”

Because this is such a good use of our educational resources and tax dollars, you know.
Perfect (unintentional) double entendre toward the end of the article.

June 25, 2013


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 6:17 pm

Says it well.

June 24, 2013

20 Secret Passageways and Rooms Hiding in Plain Sight

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 2:46 pm

20 Secret Passageways and Rooms Hiding in Plain Sight

: “History can be told in terms of secret passageways, hidden rooms, and obscure tunnels. Wars have been won and lost by them, coup d’états sprung, and entire countries altered thanks to a well-placed nook or crannie. There are also plenty of modern-day uses, as you’ll see below—from drug smuggling tunnels in Tijuana to hidden doors that protect your most valuable wines. Check out 20 of the best, below.”

I love this sort of thing.

The Time You Have

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 2:30 pm

by Ze Frank. Ze is an interesting, unique, weird guy that does this sort of thing. But he can nail it like no other.

That’s Going to Leave a Mark

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:23 am

ACLU open letter: ‘We are tired of living in a nation governed by fear’: “‘[W]e say as Americans that we are tired of seeing liberty sacrificed on the altar of security and having a handful of lawmakers decide what we should and should not know,’ the ACLU writes in a statement circulated to grassroots supporters and addressed to President Obama. ‘We are tired of living in a nation governed by fear instead of the principles of freedom and liberty that made this nation great.’”

Read the whole thing.

June 23, 2013

Excuse Me?

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 2:20 pm

A Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deputy director warned a group of Maury County [Tenn.] residents that unfounded complaints about water quality could be considered an “act of terrorism.”

As the news article explains, some residents complained about the quality of their water, saying it was “cloudy” and did not taste pure. In response to such comments at a public hearing,

“We take water quality very seriously. Very, very seriously,” said Sherwin Smith, deputy director of TDEC’s Division of Water Resources, according to audio recorded by attendees. “But you need to make sure that when you make water quality complaints you have a basis, because federally, if there’s no water quality issues, that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism.”

“Can you say that again, please?” an audience member can be heard asking on the audio.

Smith went on in the recording to repeat the claim almost verbatim.

The state office claims it is “looking into” Smith’s statement.

Like many things, the authorities are “looking into it” (and can’t comment because of some “ongoing investigation”).


*UPDATE* From a different link: “‘The department would like to fully assess what was said in the meeting. I am told that the meeting was far longer than the audio clip provided by SOCM and that Mr. Smith actually clarified his remarks. But again, we are looking into it.'””

The Big Sandy Shoot

Filed under: Education,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 1:47 pm

Holy cow. That looks amazing. Stick with it for the night shoot:

June 21, 2013

Come On, Just This Once

Filed under: Business — jasony @ 12:28 pm

Never Give Stores Your ZIP Code. Here’s Why:

“In one of their brochures, direct marketing services company Harte-Hanks describes the GeoCapture service they offer retail businesses as follows: ‘Users simply capture name from the credit card swipe and request a customer’s ZIP code during the transaction. GeoCapture matches the collected information to a comprehensive consumer database to return an address.’ In a promotional brochure, they claim accuracy rates as high as 100%.”

I’ve gotten the stink-eye a few times when I’ve tried to buy items without giving them a zip code or phone number. I’ve even escalated it to a manager once or twice- they usually understand and let it pass.

June 20, 2013


Filed under: Politics,Quoth — jasony @ 9:33 am

“Our contemporaries are constantly wracked by two warring passions: they feel the need to be led and the desire to remain free. Unable to destroy either of these contrary instincts, they seek to satisfy both at once. They imagine a single, omnipotent, tutelary power, but one elected by the citizens. They combine centralization with popular sovereignty. This gives them some respite. They console themselves for being treated as wards by imagining they have chosen their own protectors. Each individual allows himself to be clapped in chains because that the other end of the chain is held not by a man or a class but by the people themselves.”

Alexis de Tocqueville

June 19, 2013

Fixit Felix

Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 4:38 pm

We Need a Fixer (Not Just a Maker) Movement:

“Madison Sheffield cracks open a toaster oven, jams her hand inside, then turns on the power. It looks like she’s about to electrocute herself, but she seems unfazed. ‘Thermostat or heating element?’ Sheffield mutters, yanking on wires and poking around with a multimeter.

‘Why isn’t this working?’ She isn’t the only one in this crowded room trying to get busted hardware working. A few feet away, a trio of people are elbow-deep in a vintage VCR, and there’s another team performing surgery on a lava lamp. It’s a typical meeting of the Fixer’s Collective, an ad hoc group of tinkerers in Brooklyn. Once a month, in an art gallery, they offer to repair anything neighbors can carry. People troop in with PCs, lamps, appliances — piles of stuff we typically pitch in the garbage at the first hint of trouble. As I watch for three hours, the fixers get everything up and running (except the lava lamp).

The spectacle of dead goods coming back to life isn’t just useful — for the locals, it’s transformative. ‘I was a totally different person after they fixed my laptop,’ says Nicole DeLuca, a filmmaker who had her MacBook repaired last year. ‘It made me realize I didn’t need to buy new every time something breaks.’”

MakerBot Merging With Stratasys

Filed under: Business,Maker — jasony @ 4:33 pm

MakerBot Merging With Stratasys – Slashdot: “MakerBot Industries, creators of the popular Thing-O-Matic and Replicator line of 3-D printers, is being acquired by Stratasys, a company that’s been working on 3-D printing and production systems since 1989. “

h/t Sean.

from an email I sent His Seanness:

Bre Pettis just got rich. Good for him.

I’m initially inclined to bemoan this, but after seeing the huge number of new 3D printers at the TechShop open house (not to mention the number of huge 3D printers), I’m just excited to see lots of churn in the market. Tons of innovation, creative destruction, and ideas floating around— and the price keeps coming down. Hooray free market!

In the digital economy, we’ll soon all be working for free – and I refuse | Suzanne Moore | Comment is free | The Guardian

Filed under: Business,Education,Technology — jasony @ 1:01 pm

In the digital economy, we’ll soon all be working for free – and I refuse | Suzanne Moore | Comment is free | The Guardian: “We cannot all be freelancers for ever. Freelance work, like interning, is fine if you have the funds to manage without a regular income. That is, if you are already wealthy. But the digital economy operates as a kind of sophisticated X Factor. Someone will make it, sure. For more than 15 seconds even, maybe. But most won’t. This is why Lanier says the internet may destroy the middle classes, the people who can’t outspend the elite. And without that middle group, we cannot maintain a democracy.

He sees musicians and artists and journalists as canaries in the mineshaft of this new economy. Who will pay them? ‘Is this the precedent we want to follow for our doctors and lawyers and nurses and everybody else? Because, eventually, technology will get to everybody.'”

Interesting thoughts. I don’t agree with them all, but I think she’s on a general right track.

Man Man vs Byad Myan

Filed under: Games — jasony @ 11:26 am

Okay, only my younger brother will get that title and he probably doesn’t read my blog. But anyway, LEGO MOVIE!

Ahh, the Good Old Days

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 10:56 am

Brilliant (and somewhat depressing/hopeful).

June 18, 2013

Just Watch Me

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 7:28 am

Citizens and the State: The Problem Is Bigger Than You Think –

“More of what the government does is classified than ever before. If you do not know what the government is doing then, obviously, you have no say over its activities. This flies in the face of the Declaration of Independence, which states that governments derive ‘their just powers from the consent of the governed.’ How can you consent to something you know nothing of?

The principle animating democratic and republican government is accountability to the governed. Yet more and more government action lies beyond the citizens’ reach. As law professor Jonthan Turley explained in a Washington Post piece that appeared before the surveillance leaks, ‘our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch of government, an administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency.’ (Viz., the NSA.)

The ‘vast majority of laws,’ he continues, ‘are not passed by Congress but issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats.’ In 2007, he writes, ‘Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies’ – there are now 69 of them – ‘finalized 2,926 rules.’”

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