The Big Think

July 31, 2013

Good for the Goose

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:13 am

The Volokh Conspiracy » Lawmakers Upset with PPACA as It Applies to Them:

“Because the Senate bill was used as the basis for the PPACA, and only subject to limited reconciliation amendments, there are quite a few provisions that were enacted that were not what health care reform supporters wanted. (This likely explains the language at issue with the IRS tax credit rule too.) The problem is that intentions are not law, and if Congress passes an imperfect or ill-conceived statute, it’s still the law of the land.”

Yes, and this is part of the problem that opponents were pointing to when the “we have to pass it so you can find out what’s in it” nonsense was going on last year. We weren’t listened to, were called names, decried for being partisans, etc. Now that the chickens are coming home to roost and the problems are almost here there’s a concerted effort to ignore this history or move the blame to the very people who were pointing out the problems. Regardless, the PPACA will go down as one of the most ill conceived and expensive boondoggles in history. We’ve only just begun to see the damage that this terrible bill is going to do to 1/6th of the economy.

Embrace the Change.

July 27, 2013

The Force is Strong with This One

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Movies — jasony @ 7:20 pm

Life-Size TIE Fighter – Neatorama: “”

Nevermind

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:27 am

“Change” Is Officially Dead: Obama Scrubs Web Of 2008 Campaign Promises Including Whistleblower Protection:

“The Sunlight Foundation notes that it last could be viewed on June 8, which was two days after the first revelations from Edward Snowden (who had then not yet revealed himself) about the NSA’s phone surveillance program. One of the promises Obama made on the website was on ‘whistleblower protections:’

‘Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.’

The White House did not respond to multiple requests for comment on why the page was deleted.

You don’t say.

UPDATE: ““Despite promises to strengthen protections for whistleblowers, the Obama administration has launched an aggressive crackdown on government employees who have leaked national security information to the press.”

Feel the Hope, Feel the Change.

July 26, 2013

ReadMe

Filed under: Current Reading,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 8:05 pm

62 of the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries | Mental Floss

Don’t miss #37

July 25, 2013

Time to Clean that Wetsuit

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 10:58 am

Watch these humpback whales come within feet of gobbling up two divers

One of the reasons I have a not-unreasonable fear of deep water.

July 24, 2013

Defending American Principles Is Now a Revolutionary Act

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:50 am

Defending American Principles Is Now a Revolutionary Act: “When you get called up for jury duty, don’t weasel out of it. Proudly sit as a juror, and if the State fails to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, proudly acquit. If the case was so weak it never should have been brought, after giving your verdict tell the judge what you think on the record. Let’s deincentivize overcharging by embarrassing abusive prosecutors. And exercise your other rights – exercise the hell out of them because if you don’t you will lose them.

Speak out, loudly and proudly, and refuse to be silenced. When the government annoys you, petition it for the redress of your grievances. Petition it until the bureaucrats shiver when they see you coming.

Demand your right to live according to your conscience, and refuse to abide by the oppression of other people based on their religion or lack thereof.

Own a gun and ammunition, and be prepared to defend yourself, your family, your community and our Constitution.

When some government flunky gets into your private affairs without a warrant based upon probable cause, drag his sorry rear into court.

And when some agent of the government attempts to quarter troops in your home during peacetime, you tell him to get off your lawn.

Americans are citizens and not subjects because our forefathers refused to countenance the abuses of far-away elites who sought to control their lives. That’s our heritage, and that’s our duty.”

Americans are (well, mostly), a stubborn, cantankerous, hard to manage, and impossible to “rule”, group of people that has historically chosen to stick our fingers in the eye of anyone with the temerity to think they know how we should live our lives. The best of America happens when we continue with this tradition and refuse to agree to even the idea that we have “betters”.

Arms Race

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 11:39 am

How Medieval Arms Race Led to Swords Capable of Killing ‘Tin Can’ Knights

July 19, 2013

Jurassic Parts

Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 2:01 pm

Dinosaur Puzzle Sculpture – Neatorama: “”

Not that it means anything, but for the record, I thought of this idea about three years ago when I was going to build props for a dinosaur act.

Save the Cat!

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 1:38 pm

Hollywood and Blake Snyder’s screenwriting book: “The 2005 screenwriting book that’s taken over Hollywood—and made every movie feel the same.”

Field and McKee offered the screenwriter’s equivalent of cooking tips from your grandmother—general tips and tricks to guide your process. Snyder, on the other hand, offers a detailed recipe with step-by-step instructions.

Each of the 15 beats is attached to a specific page number or set of pages. And Snyder makes it clear that each of these moments is a must-have in a well-structured screenplay. The page counts don’t need to be followed strictly, Snyder says, but it’s important to get the proportions fairly close

Watching poorly executed movies with Snyder’s formula in mind can become a tiresome and repetitive slog. How many times can you watch a young man struggle with his problems, gain new power, then save the world? It’s enough to make you wonder: Is overreliance on Snyder’s story formula killing movies?

The previews before Monster’s University were so tiresomely similar that I leaned over to Erin and actually said “are these for the same movie?”. Structure is good, but over reliance on structure eventually leads to… what? Your audience turning on you? The creation of new structures? Not sure, but in the meantime it can make watching some entertainment pretty bland.

IT FELL!

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 11:34 am

Trinity College experiment succeeds after 69 years – RTÉ News: “After decades of waiting, physicists at Trinity College have for the first time captured a rare scientific event on camera.

70 years after the experiment was set up, the scientists have videoed pitch dripping from a funnel.

The experiment was begun by a colleague of Nobel Prize winner Ernest Walton in the physics department of Trinity in 1944.

Its aim was to prove that the black carbonic substance pitch is a viscous or flowing material…..

The Trinity College scientists have estimated that based on the results from the experiment, the viscosity of pitch is two million times that of honey.”

We were at Trinity in Dublin a few years ago and saw the Book of Kells. If I’d have known this was just across campus I would have loved to have seen it.

Pics and video at the link.

July 18, 2013

Vocal Virtuoso

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Music — jasony @ 9:13 am

Watch the first two minutes and I guarantee you’ll watch the rest. Oh, and the end is simply amazing. Wow.

July 17, 2013

The Supermassive Vacuum Cleaner At the Edge of the Known Universe

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 8:33 pm

The Supermassive Vacuum Cleaner At the Edge of the Known Universe:

“In recent years, scientists began noticing something a little bit off about the structure of the universe. By analyzing the light from distant galaxies, they were able to tell the relative speed and direction in which these objects were moving. The strange thing is that, rather than flying apart like most things in the universe, some of these distant galactic clusters appear to be caught up in a sort of current, speeding at unimaginable velocities (about two million miles per hour) along a specific path. Scientists have coined this phenomenon ‘dark flow’ because, honestly, they really don’t know what’s causing it. “

July 15, 2013

Baylor named among nation’s best collegiate libraries

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 1:50 pm

Baylor named among nation’s best collegiate libraries « Baylor Proud:

“Historically, a university’s library has been the heart of the college, and that shows up even looking at a simple campus map. Here at Baylor, Carroll Library (now home to the Texas Collection) housed the university’s academic collection in Burleson Quadrangle, the traditional center of campus, from its construction in 1902 until Moody Memorial Library opened just down Fountain Mall in 1968.”

Sic ’em

Free Market at Work

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:09 pm

Free Market at Work: Okla. City Hospital Causes Bidding War by Posting Surgery Prices Online:

“‘When we first started we thought we were about half the price of the hospitals,’ Dr. Lantier said. ‘Then we found out we’re less than half price. Then we find out we’re a sixth to an eighth of what their prices are. I can’t believe the average person can afford health care at these prices.’

By being upfront about their prices, the KFOR-TV report explains, the clinic hoped to win over customers by defeating its competition in a price war.

The Oklahoma doctors were successful on both accounts.

‘Their first out-of-town patients came from Canada; soon everyday Americans caught on,’ the report reads. ‘A handful of other Oklahoma medical facilities have started joining Surgery Center of Oklahoma in price transparency.’

‘Surgery Center of Oklahoma does accept private insurance, but the center does not accept Medicaid or Medicare,’ the report continues. ‘Dr. Smith said federal Medicare regulation would not allow for their online price menu.’

They have been able to avoid government regulations in that area by simply not accepting Medicaid or Medicare payments.

Patients like what they see and they are demanding price-matching — much to the chagrin of some hospitals.

‘Hospitals are having to match our prices because patients are printing their prices and holding that in one hand and holding a ticket to Oklahoma City in the other hand and asking that hospital to step up,’ Dr. Smith said. ‘So we’re actually causing a deflationary effect on pricing all over the United States.’

In other words, the Surgery Center of Oklahoma has forced its competition to, well, compete.”

I would love to see hospitals and emergency centers list their prices online. I’d also like to see the “with insurance” and “without insurance” prices listed so consumers can see the actual cost of the middle man (the insurance companies). As it is now most of these costs are hidden. Transparency and competition in health care! Who’d have thunk it?

Adam Savage Geeks Out Over Woodworking Saws

Filed under: Technology,Woodworking — jasony @ 12:34 am

Adam Savage Geeks Out Over Woodworking Saws: “Adam geeks out over beautiful coping saws with Brian Meek of Knew Concepts. We learn about the design of these woodworking and jewelry saws and see some new saws built with a titanium “

The Pixar Theory

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Movies — jasony @ 12:07 am

The Pixar Theory | Jon Negroni: “Every Pixar movie is connected. I explain how, and possibly why.”

July 11, 2013

Go Away Daddy

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 8:23 am

After being with godaddy as my registrar for all my domains I’ve finally completed the process of getting them all onto hover.com. Hover has been great. Decent prices, no upsell, easy interface, reliable. They seem like good folks, and they don’t use advertise their services with semi-pornographic superbowl ads. Yuck.

We’ve got four domains with them now:

thebigthink.org
invisiblestrings.com
timberlinewoodworking.com
peatfirejewelry.com

The first two have pages on them (hosted by e-rice.net). The next two are works-in-progress that will hopefully soon have a page.

Glad to finally get everything transferred! Now if I could just get them all to charge at the same time.

July 9, 2013

But Hey, It’s Just Metadata, Right?

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 8:47 am

What Gmail Knows About You

A lot, as it turns out. But I thought all this metadata was pretty harmless.

July 8, 2013

Action!

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

One of the best action/chase scenes of recent years- all the better because it’s divorced from what is possible technically.

This trailer has the original foley and voices but a fan-replaced audio soundtrack. Really great choice of music and nice timing on the hits. Great stuff!

July 7, 2013

Going Strong

Filed under: Science,Space,Technology — jasony @ 9:01 pm

10 Years Ago, Opportunity Rover Began a 90-Day Mission That Never Ended:

“When NASA’s Opportunity rover launched on July 7th, 2003, expectations were modest. It would spend 90 Martian days exploring soil and rock samples and taking panoramas of the Red Planet; anything else would be a bonus. Nearly ten years after its initial shift was up, Opportunity is still going strong.”

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