The Big Think

September 30, 2013

Shut Down

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:06 pm

Sometimes I think Washington’s greatest fear is that the government will shut down and most people won’t notice. 🙂

Edumacation

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 9:52 pm

TaxProf Blog: Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results:

“It’s time to revive old-fashioned education. Not just traditional but old-fashioned in the sense that so many of us knew as kids, with strict discipline and unyielding demands. Because here’s the thing: It works. … Studies have now shown, among other things, the benefits of moderate childhood stress; how praise kills kids’ self-esteem; and why grit is a better predictor of success than SAT scores.”

Slide

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 9:35 pm

Chaffee County rockslide kills five family members – The Denver Post

My old stomping grounds. Agnes Vaille falls is a popular side hike right on the slopes of Mt. Princeton. Sorry to hear about this.

The First Step Toward Solving a Problem

Filed under: Movies — jasony @ 4:47 pm

Exclusive::

“So when CraveOnline cornered J.J. Abrams on the red carpet for the Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray release party, we had to ask him… What’s up with those lens flares? His answer may be the most surprising thing he’s done in years. He apologized.

‘I know I get a lot of grief for that,’ says Abrams. ‘But I’ll tell you, there are times when I’m working on a shot, I think, ‘Oh this would be really cool… with a lens flare.’ But I know it’s too much, and I apologize. I’m so aware of it now. I was showing my wife an early cut of Star Trek Into Darkness and there was this one scene where she was literally like, ‘I just can’t see what’s going on. I don’t understand what that is.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I went too nuts on this.” ‘This is how stupid it was,’ J.J. Abrams added. ‘I actually had to use ILM [Industrial Light & Magic] to remove lens flare in a couple of shots, which is, I know, moronic. But I think admitting you’re an addict is the first step towards recovery.'”

Kudos!

Quoth

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 10:19 am

“Treasury Secretary Lew says the U.S. will run out of money in three weeks. I’m no financial wizard, but at $16 trillion in debt, didn’t we run out of money $16 trillion ago?”

Jay Leno

September 27, 2013

Good For the Goose

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:28 am

Something that all of my friends, on both sides of the political spectrum, can agree on:

Back in 2009, when Democrats were writing the massive new national health care scheme, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley offered an amendment. Obamacare created exchanges through which millions of Americans would purchase “affordable” health coverage. Grassley’s amendment simply required lawmakers, staff, and some in the executive branch to get their insurance through the exchanges, too.

To every Republican’s amazement, Democrats accepted the amendment. It’s never been fully clear why; the best theory is they intended to take the provision out in conference committee, but couldn’t do so because they lost their filibuster-proof 60-vote majority. In any event, Obamacare — the law of the land, as supporters like to say — now requires Congress to buy its health care coverage through the exchanges.
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That has caused Democratic panic as the formal arrival of Obamacare nears. Right now, all lawmakers and staff are entitled to enjoy generously-subsidized coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan. Why give up that subsidy and go on the exchanges like any average American?

But that’s the law. It could be amended, but Democrats, who voted unanimously for Obamacare, couldn’t very well expect much help from Republicans, who voted unanimously against it. So over the summer Democrats asked President Obama to simply create an Obamacare exception for Capitol Hill.

Link

This is ridiculous, and I’ve yet to meet a single liberal, conservative, tea party, or libertarian who thinks this is a good idea. Pathetic.

September 26, 2013

Earl Grey, Hot

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:31 am

Poll:

“Considering the multi-year war on the Tea Party by Democrats, many Republicans, and the media, it is astounding that the Tea Party continues to stay more or less even in its support over the past two years. A 2% drop is hardly meaningful, and could just be variations within the margin of error in the poll, which was +/- 3%.

Also consider that half the electorate has no opinion one way or the other. So put it another way, almost 3/4 of the American electorate is not opposed to the Tea Party!

Think about it another way, if you were at a dinner table with four other people who represented the American electorate, one of the people at the table would be a Tea Party supporter. And two others would have no opinion.”

Change indeed. That’s because once people recognize that Tea Party people are not mouth-breathing racist KKK members and just want a sane and sustainable fiscal government with pretty libertarian dont-hurt-anyone-or-bug-me-and-I-dont-care-what-you-do attitudes, they realize that maybe the picture that has been painted for them is a little, shall we say, biased. Good to know that people are coming around.

From the comments:

Just to let you know: the group “TEA Party supporter” is not, and never has been, limited to capital “C” Conservatives, or Republicans. The Democratic Party at the national level has done their damndest to make that accusation stick, mainly because they are afraid of being replaced, a fear they share with the Republican Party at the national level.

The TEA Party platform was designed to span the American political spectrum.

Don’t interfere with my life
Get out of debt
Government shouldn’t spend more than it makes
Apply the laws equally to everyone.

Yeah, sounds pretty radical. I can see why folks would be against that.

September 25, 2013

Roughing It

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Technology — jasony @ 4:04 pm

2012 Marchi Mobile eleMMent palazzo

What, no helipad? How disappointing.

More crazy cool cars (real life Wacky Racers!) here.

The Science Guy

Filed under: Movies,Science — jasony @ 1:45 pm

The Man Who Gets The Science Right On ‘The Big Bang Theory’:

“Saltzberg also reviews scripts in progress. They arrive with unfinished dialogue and brackets reading, ‘Insert Science Here.’ He fills in the blanks, as in an episode where Dr. Sheldon Cooper, a puffed-up theoretical physicist, keeps bumming rides from a neighbor.

‘She couldn’t understand why Sheldon never got a driver’s license,’ Saltzberg explains. When she asks what Sheldon was doing at age 16, when everyone else was learning to drive, he answers, as per Saltzberg, ‘Examining perturbative amplitudes in N=4 supersymmetric theories, leading to a reexamination of the ultraviolet properties of multiloop N=8 supergravity, using modern twistor theory.’

As it happens, that’s ‘a real, important project that one of my friends is working on,’ Saltzberg says.”

Sounds like a gig Matt would like.

Welfare State

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:15 am

Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state:

“King Willem-Alexander delivered a message to the Dutch people from the government in a nationally televised address: the welfare state of the 20th century is gone.

In its place a ‘participation society’ is emerging, in which people must take responsibility for their own future and create their own social and financial safety nets, with less help from the national government.

‘The shift to a ‘participation society’ is especially visible in social security and long-term care. The classic welfare state of the second half of the 20th century in these areas in particular brought forth arrangements that are unsustainable in their current form.’

You don’t say? Good that at least some world leaders see the writing on the wall and are trying to change things before the math overtakes them.

The most frustrating thing about all this is that leaders from Ron and Rand Paul to Ted Cruz to even (at one point) President Obama himself have proclaimed loudly that our current fiscal path is unsustainable. But a combination of a sclerotic political system, dependent and entitled citizens, and a complete lack of foresight and ability to plan (as well as the quiet hope on the part of many that the system will stay solvent just long enough for them to enjoy it before shuffling off), has prevented any sort of meaningful reform. Detractors are torn somewhere between abject denial and open ridicule of coming fiscal realities. And meanwhile we get this:

Graph.png

The vast majority of that debt has been enshrined as untouchable in our current system. We can cut the Departments of Education, Defense, Interior, the FDA, and every single security and intelligence agency— we can leave only Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (completely shut down the rest of the government)— and we still do not have enough revenue to pay our bills. But “lalalalalala-I-can’t-hear-you!” is sometimes the best that opponents can do. But what can’t go on forever, won’t.

Not to be alarmist about it (as if alarmism isn’t called for), but as a country we are on a fiscal boat that is sinking rapidly and half of the passengers are screaming “EVERYBODY BAIL” while the other half denies that there is a hole in the side, ignores the water, or claims that it’s nothing to worry about.

Meanwhile there’s a guy giving a quasi-filibuster on the floor of the Senate about the insustainability of our fiscal path and it goes unreported by the broadcast media and ridiculed by people on the other side of the political aisle.

I really do fear for the future of our country.

What is one person out of 350,000,000 to do? Well, for starters, realize that if we’re to patch the boat then spending must stop or at least be drastically curtailed. We see many analyses that the deficit could be reduced and reversed completely in a sane amount of time if only baseline budgeting were ended. That’s the practice of baking in an increase to all Federal Departmental budgets every year automatically. When you hear “draconian cuts” by one side of the aisle being used as a club against the other for short term political gain, rest assured that these “cuts” are almost always a reduction in the amount of increase and not an actual cut. Second, we have to get used to the idea that in a future America we all will be forced to give up whatever part of the budget we personally deem irreplaceable. Defense (yay! “Bakesales for Bombers!” my liberal friends will say). The Dept of Education (yes, really). The ACA (it really is actuarially impossible to maintain). The N.E.A. (bye bye Big Bird!). And on and on an on. Not because we want to do without these things. I mean, why not have all the goodies you can buy and then put on a red hot credit card? We need to do without because, at some point in the future, there is no more money. No increasing tax revenue from a growing economy (we’re seeing that now), a downgrade of our national credit rating which will further increase borrowing costs (it has happened before and we’re on the way to another), no country willing to loan us money to finance our national lifestyle (we’ve seen this lately as well) and the ability of the Fed to essentially loan itself 85 billion dollars per month will be met with the inflation that inevitably comes from running printing presses non stop (for reference, see…. every country that’s ever tried it). Combine this with a growing lack of accountability among our leaders and a media ripe with malfeasance and bias and the public begins to believe that we have reverted to a nation of men instead of a nation of laws.

Are the problems insurmountable? Ten years ago I would have said no, we can solve this, if only… But now? I believe they are, and I’m not going to say otherwise. Why? Because we’ve forgotten as a culture how to delay gratification for shiny things. We have put off fiscal responsibility and two whole generations have never been taught that you have to live within your means.

The bill is about to come due. The repercussions are not going to be pretty.

UPDATE: Don’t miss this article.

The Silence of the Wolves

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 6:59 am

“[N]ot a single network bothered to report the stunning news that night or Tuesday morning that Lerner, as the Washington Times reported, “retired from the agency Monday morning after an internal investigation found she was guilty of ‘neglect of duties’ and was going to call for her ouster, according to congressional staff.”

link

So to summarize- an official very high up in the IRS is accused of using her position to unfairly targeting certain groups of Americans for political reasons. This same official is called before Congress to testify and takes the 5th Amendment in response. Then, stunningly, that official announces her resignation, and the broadcast media doesn’t report it.

Does this seem like responsible journalism to you?

Fix the media and you fix the country.

UPDATE:

Ted Cruz, Wendy Davis and media bias:

“When a Democrat like Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis filibusters against abortion restrictions, she is elevated to hero status, her tennis shoes become totems. When Cruz grandstands against Obamacare, he is a laughingstock in the eyes of many journalists on Twitter, an ’embarrassment’ in the eyes of The New York Times editorial board…After Davis’s filibuster in June, she got a glowing Vogue profile and was interviewed by nearly every major network and show that deemed her the new superstar from the Lone Star.”

September 24, 2013

Iron is Hot

Filed under: Audio,Business,Music,Woodworking — jasony @ 4:35 pm

Why is it that when you’re self employed the work comes in these strange waves? I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now and I’ve noticed that I either have very little to do or I’m bursting at the seams with work. And it’s not just the same kind of work. Between arranging, writing original music, woodworking projects, audio editing gigs, and now a huge transcription project (reconnecting with my old friend and musician Kurt Kaiser).

It’s feast and famine but for now at least my mother and father will be happy that we won’t be going hungry for a while. 🙂

September 22, 2013

Good Advice

Filed under: Business,Disclosure — jasony @ 9:54 pm

Before You Grow Up: Be a Raft Guide: “What’s not to love? You get paid to float a river, and vacation days offer climbing, hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking.”

Yup.

On The Other Side of the World….

Filed under: Music,Politics — jasony @ 8:46 pm

Rick Robinson: What You Should Have Been Looking At While Miley Was Twerking: “Someday in the not-too-distant future, a music writer will author a coffee table book entitled August, 2013, remembering this moment in time as pivotal in the history of pop culture. Glossy pictures of a misunderstood female performer will adorn slick pages filled with lofty praise in tribute to the shift she caused in the paradigm of performance art.

The book will not be about Miley Cyrus’s twerking (for us old rockers, read: dry humping), or what she did with a foam index finger at the annual MTV Music Awards. Instead, the book will highlight the life and horrendous death of singer Hyon Sung-wol.

A South Korean Newspaper reported that this week North Korea’s communist dictator, Kim Jong-un, executed a dozen members of the Unhasu Orchestra – including Jong-un’s former girlfriend, singer Hyon Sung-wol – as their relatives and musicians from three other pop bands were forced to watch. Following the firing squad, the on-lookers were all sent to concentration camps.

Didn’t catch that story on Entertainment Tonight?

Not surprising.

Which is why the public’s obsession with Miley Cyrus’ twerking instead of Hyon Sung-wol’s assassination may say more about us than it does about the teen idol formerly known to Disney Channel viewers as Hannah Montana.”

Read the whole thing

September 21, 2013

Fly Away

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

wow.

Clamming Up

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:10 am

Why Has The Media Stopped Talking About The Navy Yard Shooter?:

“The media typically loves stories about people who go on shooting sprees but just a few days after the Navy Yard shooting story broke, no one in the media is talking about it anymore. Why? The answer is pretty simple. The story didn’t fit the media’s preferred gun control narrative. Had the story been about a white Tea Party member as everyone in the liberal media was hoping, we’d still be bombarded with coverage of the story. Black guy? Liberal? Mentally ill? The story no longer served any purpose for the left’s agenda so it was dropped.

Illustrator

Filed under: Computing,Maker — jasony @ 8:07 am

Been doing a lot of Illustrator work lately and I’m really enjoying learning the program. It makes even artistically-challenged people like me able to make nice illustrations, and it’s almost required to use many of the machines at TechShop. To that end, here are

95 amazing Adobe Illustrator tutorials

September 20, 2013

In A Hole in the Ground…

Filed under: Business,Education — jasony @ 8:28 pm

Lessons in Manliness: The Hobbit:

“You can aspire to and achieve greatness no matter who you are and no matter your stage in life. This sounds extraordinarily like a cliché, but do you really believe it? Contrary to what the movies would have you believe, in the book, Bilbo was 50 years old when he set out on his adventure. (So was Frodo, in fact, in Lord of the Rings.) He had ‘little to no magic,’ and ‘didn’t like to be called audacious.’ He was a thoroughly middle-aged fellow who had no interest in spicing up his life. He lived comfortably, ate and drank much, and enjoyed his cozy home. He even said, ‘We are plain, quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!’

And yet, Bilbo ultimately becomes the hero of our story. He often complains and longs for home, but he keeps pressing on. He even gets to a point where he can feel the desire for adventure calling out from within him. We’ve written about the importance of taking full advantage of your 20s, but the potential of your middle and elder years shouldn’t be squandered either. Will you be an empty nester or retiree with a quiet, comfortable life? Or will you say ‘yes’ to whatever adventure or dream is trying to make itself heard from within your spirit? When you feel yourself trying to say that you’re not the kind of person to start your own business or that you’re too old to travel the world, harness your inner Bilbo Baggins. Say yes, take the first step outside your front door, and keep on going.”

5.Imagine your life as a story. Not too long ago, we even had a guest post about this — our life is a journey, and a heroic one at that. Imagine yourself sitting down with your grandkids and telling them the story of you. “Well, I made some money, bought a few cars, sat around and watched TV for a few hours every night, and that’s about it.” Pretty boring, isn’t it? Now imagine that you can start hours worth of stories with, “I explored…I traveled…I fell in love…I fought and won…I overcame…I sweated…” Not only would the story be better, but you likely would be far more satisfied with the course of your life.

J.R.R. Tolkien agrees. “Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyways.” He is saying that a life of good ease is a boring one. It’s often what the American dream aspires to, but the reality is that personal growth, and even enjoyment, are things that come out of some kind of challenge. Whether it’s huffing and puffing and groaning your way up a mountain for the view at the top, or getting laid off and finally realizing you don’t want to be in a cubicle anymore, joy is often found after a bit of trudging. Don’t shy away from challenge. Embrace it, and know that someday it’ll make for a great story.

The Price of Politics

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 7:19 pm

The Price of Politics:

“As the CBO sees it, the economic weight of the deficits we’re expected to add just in the next 25 years is enough to bring the national debt from 100 percent of GDP to 200 or 250 percent of GDP, i.e., from paralyzing to catastrophic. The deficits we’ve run for the last 25 years have imposed costs of their own. That the costs mainly manifest themselves negatively — in the form of businesses that don’t exist, profits that aren’t collected, and help that is not wanted — does not make them any less real, or less tragic. In the long run, the deficit is as much about whether you have a decent job or die from diabetes complications as it is about figures in CBO estimates. The price may not always be obvious, but you pay it every day.”

What can’t go on forever, won’t. Promises that can’t be kept, won’t be.

September 19, 2013

Yes, He Really Said It

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 6:27 pm

Obama: ‘Raising the Debt Ceiling…Does Not Increase Our Debt,’ Though It Has ‘Over 100 Times’:

“Raising the debt ceiling doesn’t increase the nation’s debt, Pres. Obama declared in a speech Wednesday.

In a speech at the Business Roundtable headquarters in Washington, D.C., Obama dismissed concerns about raising the debt ceiling by noting that it’d been done so many times in the past:

‘Now, this debt ceiling — I just want to remind people in case you haven’t been keeping up — raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress. It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.’

Obama went on to suggest that ‘the average person’ mistakenly thinks that raising the debt ceiling means the U.S. is racking up more debt:

‘It’s always a tough vote because the average person thinks raising the debt ceiling must mean that we’re running up our debt, so people don’t like to vote on it,”

Technically it doesn’t, but B usually always follows A in this case. Pretty fine distinction there, don’t you think? Unfortunately, the low information voter will believe this.

Your government at work.

Oh, one more thing:

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. …Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here’. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

Senator Barack Obama, 2006 (when the debt was “only” 8 Trillion dollars. It has since more than doubled).

Failure of leadership, indeed.

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