The Big Think

June 18, 2013

Oh Give Me A Home Where the Cicadas Roam

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 6:42 am

Couple’s ‘Texas-sized’ treehouse near Mart opens new television series – WacoTrib.com: Local: “Forget the treehouse of your childhood, cobbled from scrap wood in haphazard fashion. This is more a cottage with living hackberry legs, a sizable project even for Washington treehouse wizard Pete Nelson, the master of the series’ title.

‘It’s a Texas-sized treehouse, that’s for sure,’ Nelson said in a recent phone interview.”

Don’t miss the pics.

June 17, 2013

Vroom Vroom, You’re Dead

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:59 am

What if we looked at cars the same way we look at guns? | The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME:

“Some 2,700 teens aged 16-19 died in car crashes in 2010, the most recent year for which the federal agency’s website has figures, and 282,000 were injured. So, the nation’s schools have rightly implemented programs that teach teens to be safer drivers.

Yet, suppose educators instead declared that cars themselves were harmful instruments of death and destruction with no useful purpose.

Then they began punishing students at all ages, even down to kindergarten level, for such ‘offenses’ as drawing pictures of cars, bringing toy cars to school or even mentioning the word ‘car.’

You’d likely think this was an extreme overreaction, a textbook example of irrational behavior that was likely to punish innocent students for harmless words and actions.

Now, substitute the word ‘guns’ for ‘cars,’ and you have a description of what appears to be a widespread mindset on the part of school officials nationwide that one psychologist and family doctor has called ‘psychotic.’ “

The writer goes on to mention some examples:

* Maryland: A 5-year-old boy who brought an orange-tipped cap pistol onto a school bus was interrogated for two hours (not allowed to go to the bathroom, he wet his pants) and then suspended for 10 days; in a different school, a second-grader was suspended for biting a Pop-Tart into a shape resembling a gun (to a teacher’s eyes, at least — others just saw a pastry with a bite missing).

* Massachusetts: A kindergarten boy was punished with detention for bringing a tiny Lego gun the size of a quarter onto a school bus, and was forced to write a note of apology to the driver.

* South Carolina: A 6-year-old girl was expelled for bringing a toy gun to school.

* Pennsylvania: A fifth-grader was scolded in class for accidentally bringing a piece of paper folded into the shape of a gun to school; in another school, a 5-year-old girl was suspended for talking about a Hello Kitty gun that shot soap bubbles.

Other stories around the nation tell of students being disciplined for just saying the word “gun” to another student or drawing a picture of one or wearing clothing with U.S. military symbols and slogans (one boy was sent home for wearing a T-shirt with the National Guard’s Minuteman statue logo showing a farmer holding a musket, long a symbol of American patriotism).

The most frightening part of this is that these responses to normal kid behavior (bang bang!) by our educators.

Read the whole thing

June 16, 2013

Classical Sculputres Dressed as Hipsters

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 11:37 am

Ha. See them all.

classical-sculptures-hipsters-0.jpg

Damage and Response

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:45 am

About 40% of Mr. Puzder’s employees are part-time and therefore exempt from ObamaCare’s coverage mandates. “That percentage of employees will probably go up. Everybody is hiring more part-time employees,” he says, though he is quick to add that “we’re not firing anyone to hire” part-time workers. “Through attrition, three full-time employees go away and you hire four part-time employees who basically have the same hours.”

Mr. Puzder also expects fast-food restaurants to deal with ObamaCare by replacing workers with kiosks. “You’re going to go into a fast-food restaurant and order on an iPad or tablet instead of talking to a person because we don’t have to pay benefits for any of those things.”

Of Burgers, Bikinis, and ObamaCare

Just like the Internet, the free market sees the Affordable Care Act as damage and routes around it. There is a way to stop this slow bleeding by putting more mandates and regulations onto businesses (forbidding the sort of behavior described above, fixing wages and hours as in Europe, etc) but then we won’t have a free market any longer. Some would argue that we don’t now.

It’s easy to blame greedy businesses for doing what they need to in order to survive, but speaking as a self employed person, virtually ever business decision I make has a cost/benefit analysis to it, and I cannot long afford to work for free or for less than I need to in order to pay bills.

In the food industry-with a net profit margin in the single digits -even a small increase in costs (the price of labor via mandated wage increases, raw material supplies caused by drought, increasing liabilities from more government regulations) can put a business out of business. In a climate like this it would be irresponsible for a business owner to not take every legal advantage to cut costs. That’s not evil businesses, it’s just survival.

What we’re seeing is the unintended consequences of monkeying around with 1/6th of the U.S. economy. We’re going to see a lot more.

June 15, 2013

Privacy Isn’t All We’re Losing

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:29 am

“The purpose of the surveillance is enhanced security, a necessary goal to say the least. The price is a now formal and agreed-upon acceptance of the end of the last vestiges of Americans’ sense of individual distance and privacy from the government. The price too is a knowledge, based on human experience and held by all but fools and children, that the gleanings of the surveillance state will eventually be used by the mischievous, the malicious and the ignorant in ways the creators of the system did not intend.”

Link

And that’s really the big point, isn’t it? In spite of the assurances (some public ones that I have my doubts about, and some private ones that I have strong reasons to believe) that there are myriad checks and balances to the security state, the real issue is not only what is happening behind the curtain right now, but what will happen a few years from now once the inner power balance of leaders– both elected and appointed– shifts from a “we will do no harm” to “this harm is necessary for a greater goal. This end justifies the means”. Remember how Google’s motto was Don’t Be Evil, eventually followed by Don’t Be Evil… unless we have to do business in China? Or how the IRS wasn’t ever supposed to be used as a weapon of partisan destruction? Once upon a time if you raised an alarm or brought up the slippery slope argument about creeping authoritarianism you were mocked and disregarded. Bring up that same argument about Google or the IRS now and you get a shrug. Whaddayagonnado?

The current arguments against NSA, IRS, and Federal overreach may look to partisans as the ravings of the overly paranoid, but history shows over and over and over and over again that today’s overreach is tomorrow’s baseline behavior. At some point we must be willing to say this far and no farther and then deal with the consequences. Or we should be willing to give up what once made America great. At the very least, should not the ultimate owners of a free nation have a say in the decision? But that requires a cultural foresight that I fear has been bred, educated, and distracted out of our current citizenry. What do we do to get it back?

I feel that almost everyone who talks about America for a living—politicians and journalists and even historians—is missing a huge and essential story: that too many things are happening that are making a lot of Americans feel a new distance from, a frayed affiliation with, the country they have loved for half a century and more, the country they loved without every having to think about it, so natural was it.

This isn’t the kind of thing that can be quantified in polls—it’s barely the kind of thing people admit to themselves. But talk to older Americans—they feel they barely know this country anymore. In governance its crucial to stay within parameters, it’s important not to strain ties, push too far, be extreme. And if you think this does not carry implications for down the road, for our healthy continuance as a nation, you are mistaken. Love keeps great nations going.

Link

“Patrick Henry didn’t say, ‘Give me absolute safety or give me death’.”

John Stossel

June 14, 2013

Quoth(s)

Filed under: Politics,Quoth — jasony @ 12:36 pm

KIRSTEN POWERS: “It’s appalling to hear the Washington bureaucrats and their media allies trash Edward Snowden as a traitor, when it’s our leaders and the NSA who have betrayed us.” Strong words from a Democrat.

Plus this: “It says something about the lack of a positive case for keeping the NSA spying programs secret that the main line of defense is to attack Snowden for lacking the proper credentials to speak out against the government.” Well, our credentialed-but-not-educated elites place a lot of importance on credentials. What else have they got?

via Insty

One Small Step for Kerbals

Filed under: Games,Space — jasony @ 10:38 am

The Kerbal Space Program (h/t Sean). Man, this looks like dangerous fun.

June 13, 2013

The Coffee Withdrawal Diagnosis

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 10:51 pm

The Coffee Withdrawal Diagnosis: “Quitting Caffeine Is Now Listed as a Mental-Health Disorder”

It’s now listed in the DSM-5, which makes it official. That seems a bit weird to me.

In the Name of Love

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 8:26 am

U2′s Bono interview about Christ | No Apologizing:

“Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: ‘I’m the Messiah.’ I’m saying: ‘I am God incarnate.’ And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the ‘M’ word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you.”

read the whole thing.

June 12, 2013

Over 113 Years, This Home Library Has Grown to 35,000 Books – Neatorama

Filed under: Current Reading,Education — jasony @ 10:19 pm

Over 113 Years, This Home Library Has Grown to 35,000 Books – Neatorama: “Three generations of Johnsons never set out to collect ‘rare books.’ Instead, they collected books that fell within their diverse areas of interest — from Plato, to law, to economics, to India, to archeology, to Sanskrit. Not everything in the collection is a 300-year-old scholarly tome. The museum has mystery novels, Jackie Collins’ steamy tales of lust, small books designed to fit into the pockets of GIs during World War II and tawdry novellas Richards calls ‘bodice rippers.’ Many of the older books are in Latin or Greek — or both, on facing pages — and date from the 16th and 17th centuries. The best digital searches, Richards said, show that some of the books are only cataloged at one or two libraries in the world”

Heli-Bike

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Technology — jasony @ 10:09 pm

The helicopter-bike. I WANT.

S Marks the Spot

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 9:41 pm

Evolution of a Super Symbol: “”

Granny Got a Gun

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:51 pm

Gunslinging granny fends off home invader: ‘Back up…I’m firing!’ – NYPOST.com: “‘I am a Christian woman and I’m very proud of it and I don’t curse, but after I shot, rage took hold and I just blasted away,’ she said. ‘And, in fact, afterwards my husband said, ‘I’ve never heard you talk like that!””

June 11, 2013

Do the Wave

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 6:26 pm

June 10, 2013

Death by Chocolate

Filed under: Foodie — jasony @ 5:34 pm

Yeah, these are getting made soon.

Chocolate-Stout-Cheesecake-Fudgesicles.jpg

Snowden

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 2:16 pm

Edward Snowden, NSA agent (probably former NSA agent by now) comes out as the leaker of the NSA documents last week.

From what he’s saying now it looks like the Banshees had a reason to be screaming, you know? Sorry. Just looks like that from here, and it’s all the info those of us on the outside have to go on.

The Little Rover that Could

Filed under: Science,Space,Technology — jasony @ 1:36 pm

The Opportunity Mars Rover Just Won’t Die – Popular Mechanics: “The rover rolls its way across a barren red sea. It has just finished a geologic survey of Mars’s massive Endeavor crater–finding more proof of the planet’s watery past–and already has its eyes set on the next landmark.

No, this isn’t Curiosity, the $2.5 billion dollar extra-planetary playboy that landed last August. This is Opportunity, its older, meeker, and pared-down cousin. By most measurements, Opportunity is less impressive. Well, with one exception: It will not die.

Opportunity is just a month shy of its 10-year launch anniversary, and the rover is still active.”

Good engineering, that.

To Die For

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

A Disney Haunted Mansion dinner experience that’s out of this world. Incredible.

June 9, 2013

Leviathan Wakes

Filed under: Current Reading — jasony @ 9:23 pm

Just finished book three of the Expanse series by James S.A. Corey. If you’re a SF fan and loved Contact, Cosmos, and Firefly, give this series a try. I read the third book (538 pages) in a little more than 2 days. What a ride!

June 7, 2013

Video: Plunging Hot Charcoal Into Liquid Oxygen | Popular Science

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 8:46 pm

Video: Plunging Hot Charcoal Into Liquid Oxygen | Popular Science: “”

(Via .)

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