The Big Think

March 29, 2014

Untruthful and Untrustworthy Government

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 8:21 am

Untruthful and Untrustworthy Government:

“Transparency and truth are the fuels that run sophisticated civilizations. Without them, the state grinds to a halt. Lack of trust — not barbarians on the frontier, global warming or cooling, or even epidemics — doomed civilizations of the past, from imperial Rome to the former Soviet Union.

The United States can withstand the untruth of a particular presidential administration if the permanent government itself is honest. Dwight Eisenhower lied about the downed U-2 spy plane inside the Soviet Union. Almost nothing Richard Nixon said about Watergate was true. Intelligence reports of vast stockpiles of WMD in Iraq proved as accurate as Bill Clinton’s assertion that he never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.

Presidents fib. The nation gets outraged. The independent media dig out the truth. And so the system of trust repairs itself.

What distinguishes democracies from tinhorn dictatorships and totalitarian monstrosities are our permanent meritocratic government bureaus that remain nonpartisan and honestly report the truth.

The Benghazi, Associated Press, and National Security Agency scandals are scary, but not as disturbing as growing doubts about the honesty of permanent government itself.”

A single dishonest individual (of any party) may come and go. But if the government as a whole develops a reputation for corruption and dishonesty, the system itself is in grave danger. Read the whole thing.

March 27, 2014

3D printer

Filed under: Maker,Technology — jasony @ 9:13 am

All Metal Printrbot Simple 2014: “”

Getting cheaper!

March 23, 2014

Concertino #1 for Piano

Filed under: Disclosure,Music — jasony @ 8:49 pm

A few years ago I embarked on a self-imposed assignment to write a short piano and orchestra piece in the style of Mozart. Why? No real reason other than to scratch an artistic itch. I’ve always adored the piano concerti of Mozart ever since I studied K.488 in A Major in college at Baylor twenty five years ago. I wrote a pretty extensive term paper on K. 488 and once I got my head inside it, loved it even more. It’s playful, joyful, and lighthearted. At times serious and at times childlike. Everything I love about music.

So I set out to use the style and general form of the concerto and compose something completely original, but in only one movement (hence “concertino instead of concerto“. It’s a “mini-concerto”). The form doesn’t prevent me from adding a second and third movement someday (which I’m increasingly being pulled into, I think), but it also lets it just stand on its own without structurally needing anything else.

The piece sat fallow on my hard drive for years until my friend Scott recently sent me something he had written. This encouraged me to revive the piece and complete it. It has completely taken over my life this past week. I probably spent 30-40 hours writing it and another 25 hours getting the score in shape and then recording each of the individual parts using my high end Logic East/West orchestral samples. It’s not as easy as just playing the parts in, however. When you hear, say, the oboe part shift from long held notes to short staccato to more emphatic phrases you’re actually hearing a subtle layering of many different oboe samples, each crossfaded (sometimes on a note-by-note basis) to get as authentic an oboe sound as MIDI instruments can currently achieve. Multiply that for all the instruments and you get an idea for the amount of tweaking involved. It would be a lot easier to have a live orchestra play it, but this way I’m able to do it for basically free (well, with only time invested) instead of paying the thousands of dollars it would cost to hire an orchestra.

So here, friends, is the result. My Concertino #1 for Piano. This YouTube video includes the score so you can follow along (full screen recommended. Also hi-def selected in the bottom right corner). It can be quite revealing to see what the music is doing as it winds around and inside of itself on its journey.

I’m very proud of this little five minute piece. I hope you like it.

Dedicated to my wife and best friend, because have you met her? 🙂

March 20, 2014


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:59 am

Our criminal justice system has become a crime: Column:

“When juries decide not to convict because doing so would be unjust, it’s called ‘jury nullification,’ and although everyone admits that it’s a power juries have, many disapprove of it. But when prosecutors decide not to bring charges, it’s called ‘prosecutorial discretion,’ and it’s subject to far less criticism, if it’s even noticed. As for prosecutorial targeting of disfavored groups or individuals, the general attitude is ‘if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.’

The problem with that attitude is that, with today’s broad and vague criminal statutes at both the state and federal level, everyone is guilty of some sort of crime, a point that Harvey Silverglate underscores with the title of his recent book, Three Felonies A Day: How The Feds Target The Innocent, that being the number of felonies that the average American, usually unknowingly, commits.”

Read the whole thing

March 19, 2014

Old Music

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 7:40 am

My friend Scott recently sent me an original composition for Drum Corps that he’s been working on. Really great stuff and I was impressed with his ability to handle the various sonorities of that type of group so adeptly. In listening to his piece I was reminded of an old exercise I put myself through about 15 years ago. I set out to write a piece in the style of Mozart but allow myself some freedom when it came to harmonies. I haven’t listened to it in a decade and a half. It’s been sitting as a Finale file on my hard drive since then. Well, as a result of another insomnia night last night and very early morning, I broke open that file and re-listened to it and I have to say I’m very happy with the results. Of course, that was with Finale playing it in all its computerish glory. Identical note velocities, exact rhythm, absolutely abysmal musicality etc. No “human” feel to it at all. But still, I’m really happy with the raw material.

So I’ve decided to format and print the thing (currently around 800 measures) and have a go at playing each part into Logic using vastly updated and more professional sounds. I’d like to get it all nice sounding and post it to YouTube or here on the blog. Anybody interested and I’ll send you a PDF of the score. Just a fun little piece I did over a few days that I feel like I should actually get out into the world.

Stay tuned.

March 18, 2014

77 Facts That Sound Like Huge Lies But Are Actually Completely True

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 10:44 pm

77 Facts That Sound Like Huge Lies But Are Actually Completely True: “30. Mammoths went extinct 1,000 years after the Egyptians finished building the Great Pyramid.”

Cool stuff there.

3 Dimensional Mid-Air Acoustic Manipulation

Filed under: Audio,Science — jasony @ 11:09 am


Filed under: Science — jasony @ 10:28 am

This brought tears to my eyes. Vindication for 30 years of work and assertion. Can you imagine?

Brief explanation. “5 Sigma” is described thus:

Incidentally, for anyone not au fait with scientific. terminology as used in the video, “sigma” refers to standard deviations in statistics and is a way of measuring the chance of something just being statistical fluctuation. “5-sigma” means there is a 0.0000003 chance that the result is a random fluctuation in the data, and is the level of probability used as a standard to declare something a discovery.

So if it had only been a 0.000003 chance (5 zeros to the right of the decimal) that they were wrong they would say it was unconfirmed. Add that extra order of magnitude, that extra zero (0.0000003), and they say yes, we’re going to say this is confirmed. Astonishing accuracy and a laudable level of certainty that must be achieved.

It’s really neat to see their reactions.

Gandalf is a Mac User

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 9:34 am


March 17, 2014

Universal Inflation

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 9:30 pm

Witness the joy of the man who predicted today’s Big Bang discovery as he hears the news: “Today is a great day for science, humanity and Andrei Dmitriyevich Linde—one of the main authors of the inflationary universe theory that was confirmed today. Watch his emotions as assistant Professor Chao-Lin Kuo surprises him with the news of the evidence that supports his theoretical work.”

Pretty neat to see his face.

March 16, 2014

Surfing the Little g

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 6:27 pm

Rumors Flying Nearly as Fast as Their Subject: Have Gravitational Waves Been Detected?:

“‘It’s been called the Holy Grail of cosmology,’ Hiranya Peiris, a cosmologist from University College London, told the Guardian. ‘It would be a real major, major, major discovery.’ Any convincing evidence would almost certainly lead to a Nobel prize.”

What If?

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Space — jasony @ 10:21 am

Far-Traveling Objects: “In terms of human-made objects, has Voyager 1 travelled the farthest distance? It’s certainly the farthest from Earth we know about. But what about the edge of ultracentrifuges, or generator turbines that have been running for years, for example?

(Via .)

Time to Pay the Piper

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:01 am

The High Costs of Obamacare:

“‘Obamacare would cost me $4,855.20 a year more, or a $2.33 an hour pay cut.’ And Angela Portillo, a maid at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas: ‘The Obamacare website says (my husband and I) would have to pay $8,057.04 a year more to keep the great insurance we have now. That’s a $3.87 per hour pay cut.’

Americans who says they’ve been hurt by Obamacare outnumber those who say they’ve benefited from it by more than 2 to 1, according to recent polls by both Rasmussen and Gallup.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that, through February, only about 15 percent of the 17.2 million people eligible for Obamacare had enrolled.

‘They are not buying it because the premium — even net of the subsidies — is too much for plans that have deductibles that are too high,’ Mr. Laszewski said.

A Brooking Institution study indicated that families with incomes between $20,000 and $38,000 will suffer the largest proportionate income declines.

‘Only in Washington could asking the bottom of the middle class to finance health care for the poorest families be seen as reducing inequality,’ the Unite Here report said.”

It’s bad news all the way down. Too bad we weren’t warned that this very thing was going to happen… oh, wait.

But, as always, I refer to the comment I saw online: “Even if it bankrupts the country, we have the moral obligation to provide everyone with health insurance.” Wish: granted.

March 14, 2014

Table for Two

Filed under: Travel — jasony @ 7:58 am

21 Amazing Hotels You Need To Visit Before You Die: “”


March 13, 2014

Capitalism and Greed

Filed under: Business — jasony @ 1:42 pm


March 12, 2014


Filed under: Science — jasony @ 12:12 pm

17 Equations That Changed The World – Business Insider: “to”

Fourteen Down

Filed under: Current Reading — jasony @ 10:43 am

Just finished my 14th book since January 1st. Shooting for 50 this year. I’ve gotten to 48 before but never passed the half-century mark. Hopefully this year will be the first time.

March 10, 2014

Edward Snowden at SXSW

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 3:23 pm

Edward Snowden at SXSW: The NSA is setting fire to the future of the Internet: “I took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and I saw that Constitution being violated on a massive scale.”

But remember, this guy is somehow the enemy and should have gone through “proper channels” to air his grievances. Just ask this guy, who did just that, and got blackballed for his efforts to do things within the system.


Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 7:46 am

“Taking care of others is a sign of moral character. So is taking care of oneself. Relying on others to take care of you when you are capable of taking care of yourself is just plain selfish and the very definition of irresponsible.”

Well said. Please note the all-important qualifier in the sentence: “when you are capable of taking care of yourself”. Often detractors or opponents of this idea will conveniently skip over this caveat in their rush to discredit. This, however, is the hinge upon which the rest hangs.

Anyway, good thoughts here.

March 6, 2014

To Infinity and Beyond

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 12:29 am

If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel – A tediously accurate map of the solar system: “”

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